Friday, May 9, 2008

Airport Emergency Drill

(For more photos from the disaster exercise held May 6, 2008 at the Memphis International Airport, please click here.)

We reported for duty around 2 pm, along with what seemed like hundreds of other volunteers. We were all moulaged (made up with simulated injuries) and given scenario cards. Novella and mine were similar: We were to be walking wounded, but we were supposed to be disoriented and run around frantically, looking for lost companions, presumably serving as distractions for the emergency workers.

We were fed and bussed over to the airport, where they had set up a simulation of a crash. There were two actual, damaged wings (look closely and you might discern them), but the buses were used for the fuselage. They set off several explosions, the way it's done in movie-making.

Novella and I happened to be wearing our FBI caps (we're graduates of the FBI Citizens Academy), and another participant jokingly asked if we had lost our prisoner. That was a great idea, so we changed our script a little bit. We made such a scene (at one point I threatened to arrest a Memphis police officer) that they downgraded our triage classification from "green" (walking wounded) to "red" (critically wounded) on the spot, so that they could ship us off in the next ambulance.

At Methodist South, where they had set up tents in the parking lot, we were treated wonderfully. Both of us got CAT-scanned, and when it was found that we had no serious internal injuries, they bandaged us up and prescribed pain-medication.

At one point, the hospital chaplain visited me. (I think they considered me a psyche case.) He asked if there was anything he could do, or could he get a message to someone for me. I said, "Contact My Harrison. Tell her that Agent Arnold and Agent Cromer have been in a plane crash, but we're okay. But tell her that we lost the prisoner!"

I wonder if he gave her the message.