Countywide Training For Mass Casualty Emergency

If you saw smoke in the sky and helicopters flying around Colorado Springs on Thursday, it was all part of a major emergency exercise.

"It allowed us the opportunity to work on multi-agency response, multi-agency coordination, and to put into place current plans that we have," said Battalion Chief Jesse Ortiz with the Colorado Springs Fire Department.

Ortiz was the acting incident commander for the training.

The drill was called "Sky Fall" and 46 agencies across El Paso County were a part of it.

It begun with a simulated plane crash with dozens of volunteers acting as victims with various degrees of injuries.

Crews responded as they would in a real emergency where many people are hurt.

While Black Hawk, Flight for Life and Memorial Star helicopters were landing to pick up more victims, other patients were already arriving at five of the local Colorado Springs hospitals.

"We saw patients about 45 minutes to an hour before things were supposed to happen according to the scenario," said Dr. Andrew Berson with Memorial Hospital, "It just adds reality to it, we can see how we can react in the last minute."

Authorities say these types of exercises are critical.

It's not everyday that the participating agencies work together to that extent, and by the time there's a major emergency it may be too late to try to figure things out.

"If crews just show up and start doing their own thing, we get lots of duplication of effort. We get some patients that don't even get looked at," said Captain David Vitwar with the Colorado Springs Fire Department.

Organizers are currently working on an after action report to identify what the agencies did well at and what they need to work on so they are ready if a similar, real, emergency happens.

All of the agencies involved:

- City of Colorado Springs Office of Emergency Management
- Colorado Springs Airport
- Colorado Springs Fire Department
- Colorado Springs Police Department
- Colorado Springs Dispatch
- Colorado Springs Public Works and Transit Services
- Colorado Springs Public Information
- El Paso County Emergency Services
- El Paso County Sheriff's Office
- El Paso County Public Health
- El Paso County Coroner’s Office
- Ft. Carson
- Peterson Air Force Base
- Memorial Hospital-UC Health (Central and North locations)
- Penrose-St. Francis Health Services
- Evans Army Community Hospital
- American Medical Response
- Black Forest Fire
- Cimarron Hills Fire
- Falcon Fire
- Fountain Fire/Transport
- Security Fire
- Tri-Lakes Fire and Transport
- Colorado State Patrol
- Delta Airlines
- Flight for Life
- Memorial Star
- Salvation Army
- Red Cross
- Aspen Pointe
- Bonfils Blood Center
- Rocky Mountain Mobile Medical
- Medical Reserve Corps of El Paso County