Mommy, What's A Mass Casualty?


I don't know about you, but whenever I see the Northern Gila County Fire Chiefs Association Mass Casualty Trailer around town it gives me the willies.

According to Payson Fire Marshal Jack Babb, it holds equipment like backboards and oxygen masks for use at the scene of an accident or other event that results in mass casualties.

Battalion Chief Marty deMasi explains that it takes a lot of supplies to treat people at the scene of a "major medical incident," more than is carried for day-to-day operations. He also points out that the trailer was purchased with grant money.

He further notes that casualties aren't necessarily dead people, and a quick check of my dictionary confirms that he is right. A casualty is defined as "a person or thing injured, lost or destroyed."

So the Mass Casualty Trailer is not I repeat, is not used to haul away masses of dead bodies. But since one could reasonably make that assumption based on its catchy name, I say let's give our imaginations free play and engage in a little gallows humor.

Here are my Top 10 Questions about the Mass Casualty Trailer:

10. Since it doesn't exactly conjure up visions of sugarplums, I wonder what kinds of visions are dancing in the heads of young, impressionable children when they see the Mass Casualty Trailer tooling around town? Mommy, mommy, what's a Mass Casualty Trailer?

9. Forget about a hearse, wouldn't a Mass Casualty Trailer be just the coolest thing to cruise around in on Halloween?

8. What would it mean if you saw the Mass Casualty Trailer parked outside a local eatery? The casino? A church during a wedding? A country music concert?

7. What if it were kept parked outside Town Hall? Hey, maybe we could use it to haul away all those deadly proclamations the town issues in honor of National Fishing Bait Week and similarly momentous events.

6. What if we covered all the Mass Casualty Trailer signs with some little loincloth-type thingies, and just uncovered them when there were some real mass casualties to go after?

5. When was the last time we had mass casualties, anyway?

4. Why can't this be an unmarked trailer for the same reason that the police have unmarked cars so as not to arouse suspicion? Maybe it could be disguised as a Hertz rental trailer with, say, scenes from South Dakota painted on the sides. We could even do a Beatles' album cover-type thing where if you look at the scenes from South Dakota upside down they become scenes of unthinkable mass carnage.

3. Why couldn't we just rent a Hertz trailer to use as a Mass Casualty Trailer if we ever have need for one? We could get some of those magnetic signs made up to stick on the side that proclaim it a Temporary Mass Casualty Trailer.

2. Why is it called a Mass Casualty Trailer when it probably wouldn't hold more than 50 bodies, tops? Is 50 a mass casualty? Maybe we should call it a Multiple Casualty Trailer or just a Regular Casualty Trailer or maybe a Mini-Mass Casualty Trailer.

1. Wouldn't it be cool to get Scott Flake to stage a branding contest that incorporates the Mass Casualty Trailer into our tourism persona? I'm guessing the winner would be: Gateway to the Rim Country Home of the Friendliest People, Cleanest Air and Cutest Little Red Mass Casualty Trailer in America.

DeMasi says he wishes they had come up with a better name for the Mass Casualty Trailer. He thinks something like MCT would have worked just fine.

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