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February 19, 2013 > Operation Rolling Chaos tests emergency response

Operation Rolling Chaos tests emergency response

By Sara Giusti

The day is bright and warm for early February, perfect for a hike up in Niles Canyon. But there is no time for that today - today there are screams, moans, and blood everywhere. A horrible accident has happened on Auto Mall Parkway. Bodies are stuck in overturned cars, sprawled on the street. EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) swarm to the fallen, but there are so many.

A sudden roar fills the air; back-up has been called, and the sheriff's helicopter lands nearby, forming tornadoes of dust. Military personnel begin to roll through the scene, while patients are lined up on stretchers, waiting to be transported to the nearest medical facility. The scene is chaotic, loud, overwhelming.

Thank goodness this is just an educational simulation. Held on February 10 and hosted by Fremont?s Unitek Education in collaboration with several Bay Area first responder teams, the Fremont Fire Department, Fremont Police, California Highway Patrol, the National Guard and Army Reserve, Operation Rolling Chaos was a success.

While Unitek Education holds similar simulations fourteen times a year, Operation Rolling Chaos was the first to involve all medical emergency agencies, including the Army. "This is about improving coordination and acceleration," said Unitek Vice President Navraj Bawa. "The key here is emergency management. Taking one to two hours is too much. Response needs to be fast."

And so it was. It took two days to set up the disaster simulation, with two buses and cars, some upside down, on top of each other, or sideways. Everyone worked together and took charge; the flow of patients from the car wreck to ambulances was steady and organized. Patients were assessed according to injury, then placed appropriately either waiting for an ambulance or receiving treatment. Within the school building, Intensive Care Unit rooms were set up to treat people in critical condition; patients in immediate danger were transported by helicopter in a dramatic evacuation.

Both Emergency Medical Services and Army ambulances transported patients - actually nursing students, covered in fake blood and wounds - too. Some had missing limbs, exposed bone and/or intestines. EMTs at the scene were EMT students, and their pace was quick and professional. Students also stuck to character. One EMT asked a patient, "Do you know what city you are in?" She did not; she had been knocked unconscious.

While the simulation was to train Bay Area responders in the event of a mass casualty disaster, it was also eye-opening to the public. They found that in an emergency, there is no need to panic; these people know what they are doing. With preparation through simulations such as Operation Rolling Chaos, we can all breathe a little easier.

For more information about Unitek, call (510) 249-1060 or visit

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