Just a quick letter of thanks to everyone who participated in, helped make possible or just climbed the ridges to witness last Sunday’s bus rescue Field Training Exercise.
When I first broached this idea a year and half ago, people just smiled and winked or nodded to one another, and the topic of conversation would quickly change. But enough folks, including Mark Miller and Jeff Skoloda of the Ouray Mountain Rescue Team, were supportive of the idea that I kept pursuing it. And like most projects in the county, as word got out, more and more people kept stepping forward with ideas, suggestions and offers to help. Like Ridgway School District Transportation Supervisor Maggie Graff who made it her mission to track down a school bus for us to drill with. Or the folks from Always Towing of Montrose, formerly ProTow, who donated towing services including retrieving the bus First Student of Grand Junction donated to us to raising it back up from the canyon afterwards. All free of charge.
Also to the numerous folks behind the scenes who assisted in selecting our drill site and then researching the actual owners through plat maps so we could get their permission.
And lets not forget the folks at the Ouray County CDOT who both gave us permission to hold the drill off of the roadway and posted signs two days in advance advising motorists of our drill and the traffic delay.
I would like to thank all of the folks who volunteered to be victims. Showing up early and having various makeup and prosthetic devices applied or handed to them including an amputated arm part and being inserted into the bus that was on its side and at an extremely awkward angle. Then allowing us to “rescue” them, secure some of them in a wire basket and carry them up a hillside via a rope system that they “hoped” would support them.
Thank you also to all those who hiked up to the ridges to watch the bus come flying off of the highway. And who gave us such a loud and spirited countdown to launch.
And to all those emergency responders, over 50 in all, who gave up their Sunday afternoon to come out and play. To practice for something that we hope will never happen. Everyone form law enforcement who controlled traffic for over four hours straight to the various rescuers from the Ouray Mountain Rescue Team, the Ouray Volunteer Fire Department, OCEMS, Squad 11, and a mutual aid unit form the Montrose Fire Department.
There were many others including several students from Miss Nixon’s Video Club at the Ouray School who were busily taping the entire drill from multiple angles and vantage points for us. Everyone worked hard.
We turned in a solid B performance and numerous lessons, both big and small were learned or “tweaked” for a possible future response of this kind.
So thank you everyone. This was an ambitious endeavor that we never would have been able to pull off it weren’t for everyone who helped make this possible. Everyone who gave up their afternoon to train and everyone else for putting up with the inconvenience we created on the roadways.
Sincerely and gratefully,
– Norm Rooker, Chief, OCEMS