could happen here
Wanda English Burnett
victims suffered injuries after
a gas explosion rocked the Jac-Cen-Del High School
around noon on Saturday, April 10.
have been the headline if the disaster at the school on Saturday
had not been staged.
A number of fire, police and rescue units raced to the scene
that had been carefully choreographed by Shawn Negangard, who
oversees training for the Osgood Volunteer Fire Department.
One of the victims inside the building was Kelly
Vollet, Ripley County Technology Director, who saw a different
side of what it means to be a volunteer. This is so important,
she told the Osgood Journal after the incident on Saturday.
Since reporters werent allowed inside the school (nor
should they be), Vollet provided a rare view from inside the
disaster scene. She arrived about 8 a.m. that morning to be
made-up and briefed about the events for the day.
Just as a real life situation could be - the victims were attending
a ballgame at the school when the explosion occurred.
Vollet said inside the building people were blown up and were
battling the heavy smoke, which was so thick she couldnt
see a foot in front of her. It was all very real,
she noted, saying at one point she was even crying.
Firefighters rolled in from Osgood, Delaware, and Napoleon departments
to crawl through the building to look for victims.
The scene was as close to the real thing as possible with firemen
not knowing how many victims or where they were located in the
gymnasium. Some were up in the bleachers, others scattered across
Reserve Deputy Marshal Eric Roush with the Osgood Police Department,
along with Ripley County Sheriff Tom Grills, secured the premises
as the rescue workers diligently saved lives.
The scene was complete with a PHI helicopter flying in to transport
patients by air. The rescue workers used the training to hone
their skills and critique their moves to make sure they are
ready in case it really happens.
The volunteers were not paid and were simply glad to take time
out of their sunny weekend day to help others. I would
do it again, Vollet noted.
Negangard praised everyone involved from the 911 dispatchers
to the victims, saying everyone did an outstanding job. Were
already looking at ways to improve, he noted. He said
all the agencies, which included not only the fire departments,
but Rescue 30, Rescue 20 and Rescue 69, along with Paramedic
units, will get together in the future to critique the training
There was great cooperation among the agencies,
Negangard noted. He said the last victim, there were 32 altogether,
was brought out of the building at 2:15 p.m., almost two hours
ahead of his scheduled time. They were dispatched to the scene
close to 12:30 p.m. They did an excellent job, he
said of the firemen involved. They had a lot to deal with.
At one point some of the actors were concerned grandparents
who desperately tried to get in the building. Garland and Carol
Fields of Sunman, were praised for their efforts of making the
scene realistic right down to being told by police they would
be tased if they continued with their actions. They (the
Fields) did an outstanding job, Negangard noted.
Birgit Hawkins of Milan, was the make-up artist for the day.
She made most of the make-up herself, Negangard
said. Negangard has served in rescue work for the county for
a number of years and said her make-up is absolutely realistic.
It looks like the real thing, he noted.
Hawkins, who is an EMT for Rescue 30 at Milan, is from Germany
where she worked professionally with the theatre in make-up.
She was a definite asset to the training, Negangard
(Editor's note: See photo coverage on Page 13 inside today's
ENGLISH BURNETT PHOTOS
Pictured above a number of firefighters,
rescue personnel and volunteer "victims" participate
in a mock disaster held at the Jac-Cen-Del High School
on Saturday, April 10. The training was complete with
a PHI helicopter, pictured at left, coming in to transport