CASTLE ROCK, CO – Search and rescue crews used volunteer actors and fake blood to make disaster training feel real.
Douglas County Search and Rescue conducted an in-depth training exercise Sunday that looked like a real disaster situation. Volunteers were outfitted with fake blood and wounds, then scattered throughout an open area near Founder's Village in Castle Rock. The team was responding to a mock helicopter crash scene.
"We teach them everything from medical search skills, how to search in the wilderness and also in town," explains Douglas County Search and Rescue Field Director Paul Ashton.
Volunteers must each complete nine months of training before they can join the search and rescue team. Douglas County has about 60 members. They do about 20 additional hours of training per month, combining both classroom and practical training to keep their skills fresh.
"We can have from ten calls a week to 10 calls in two months," explains search and rescue volunteer Kim Lundell.
Lundell has been with the team for 3 years and is a prime example of how diverse the rescue crew is. "I'm a stay-at-home mom," she says, "Before this, I had pretty much never camped. I'd never been outdoors. This is totally different for me and I love it."
Even though the scenario is made-up, the people involved say it does not feel that way.
"It was scary," explains volunteer victim Linda Granger, "You have no idea how long it's going to take them to find you."
Granger says being a part of the training gives her new perspective on the tough job rescuers face. She says it is obvious to see the volunteers really do take their jobs to heart.
"My hope was just to get everyone out alive," Lundell says.