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Havoc abounds at county-wide disaster drill

FULDA -- Murray County first responders and firefighters engaged in a deadly serious game of pretend Wednesday evening during a county-wide disaster drill.

FULDA -- Murray County first responders and firefighters engaged in a deadly serious game of pretend Wednesday evening during a county-wide disaster drill.

"I'm dead," said Susan Fenske, a high-schooler playing a victim of the tornado that flattened part of Maple View Estates, a senior care complex on the north side of Fulda.

When policeman Paul Kenney heard Fenske's statement, he left the room in the assisted-living area and went on to the next, searching for more victims and assessing their wounds.

There were plenty to go around. At least 25 victims waited in various rooms of the nursing home and suites. One was a diabetic with the symptoms of insulin shock. One had the slurred speech and drooping face of a stroke victim. One was confused enough to wander off periodically.

All the victims were realistically made up: blue around the mouth when they couldn't breathe, covered with burns to the face and arms or bleeding from gashes.

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High-schooler Kenny Deuschle played a victim impaled by a tree branch. Rescue workers were forced to get a litter for the boy, and then ran into problems stabilizing the branch. It couldn't be removed because it would cause too much blood loss, but the small twigs sticking out from the main branch made it difficult to place a cloth around it to keep it steady as workers slipped the litter underneath the victim.

Eventually they folded a towel around the branch and got the victim onto the litter. Then another problem came up -- the boy's arms were flopping over the side of the litter. Rescuers taped his wrists together so they could carry him out of the building safely.

Rescue workers were kept busy in other parts of Fulda, too. The mock tornado's first target was the Fulda water tower, which collapsed. It left firefighters short of ammunition when Fulda High School caught on fire after a mock lightning strike. Workers had to fetch water from the lake to quench the fire.

A second report of a house fire turned out to be a barn fire. Although only one victim was in the barn, rescue workers had to cope with a dangerous surprise -- the remains of a working methamphetamine lab, complete with hazardous chemicals.

Rescue workers came from Fulda, Slayton, Avoca, Currie, Dovray, Iona, Lake Wilson, Lake Shetek, Chandler and the Murray County Sheriff's Office to participate in the mock crisis.

Afterward, they discussed what went right during the drill and how they could improve the county's emergency services.

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