Disaster? No, A Drill


If the incident had been real and not an extremely well-orchestrated disaster drill, the story might have read like this:

"An explosion and subsequent fire in the cafeteria of Frontier Elementary School Thursday had emergency crews from the Payson area responding in force.

"Fire engines, police cars, ambulances and even a helicopter participated in the evacuation of wounded and deceased ..."

The invented scenario began at 3 p.m. with a call to the police department from FES staff reporting an explosion and fire. The call set in motion a training event which all involved hope they will never have to deal with.

As firefighters knocked down the fire, they also extricated 19 patients who had been overcome with smoke and were trapped inside. Those patients were taken to a triage area, then transported by Canyon State Ambulance or the Medical Air Transport helicopter to Payson Regional Hospital which had its own triage center set up in the emergency room.

Participating agencies included Payson, Diamond Star, Mesa del and Pine-Strawberry fire departments as well as Canyon State Ambulance, Payson Police, Medical Air and Payson Regional.

Sue Myers, principal at FES, coordinated the school's part in the drill with her staff, who remained after classes to participate.

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