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Rescue Squad Responds to Mass Casualty Incident, Rescuing More than a Dozen Victims

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Published on: Monday, October 07, 2013

Bethesda, Maryland, October 5, 2013 - At approximately 10:20 am on Saturday, October 5, as Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad (BCCRS) volunteers were preparing the station for its annual open house, an advanced life support unit, heavy rescue squad, and chief were dispatched to the Middlebrook Apartments (5015 Battery Lane) for an unconscious person to the rear of the address. Upon arrival, Paramedics Jason Gill and Alex Baden found an adult male unconscious who had been pulled from the building. After learning from a member of the maintenance staff that the patient was found unconscious after working on the building’s generator, BCCRS heavy rescue squad crew members suspected a possible carbon monoxide incident and the crew immediately donned breathing apparatus to check the atmosphere within the structure. Simultaneously, the medic crew treated the first patient and prepared him for transport to a local trauma center. After discovering exceedingly high levels of carbon monoxide within a few feet of the building entrance, BCCRS rescue squad crew members activated the fire alarm to quickly alert the apartment’s residents of the emergency and aid evacuation. The BCCRS chief established command and requested a full hazardous materials assignment, bringing units from surrounding Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) stations.

BCCRS firefighters began a rapid and thorough search of the building, finding and rescuing numerous unconscious victims located on the lower levels of the building. As BCCRS personnel performed each rescue, the victims were carried from the building to be triaged by awaiting EMS crews. Arriving units from the MCFRS hazardous materials assignment met up with the Rescue Squad crew to complete the building wide search, further removing more victims to the exterior.

The initial medic crew assumed the role of triage and began requesting more resources as needed. Victims were categorized by severity of exposure and were treated and transported to local trauma centers by numerous BCCRS and MCFRS units and the Maryland State Police helicopter. The BCCRS station was used as a staging area for those displaced by the incident. In total, fifteen patients were rescued and transported to hospitals. BCCRS units operated on the scene for approximately four hours prior to returning to service. In total, BCCRS sent eight separate units to this incident with more than twenty personnel. All of this, from the initial response to the rescues to the transports to the provision of shelter, were conducted at the same time as BCCRS’ annual open house – a testament to the organization’s ability to provide exceptional and unparalleled service to the community.

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