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Training for the unthinkable: Greenport mass casualty training exercise set for June 4

Greenport High School is about to host the most extensive mass casualty incident training ever undertaken on the North Fork, according to Chip Bancroft, owner of Firehouse Training Plus.

“As far as where we are now, we really haven’t done one this size out here,” Mr. Bancroft said.

The training will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 4, at the high school football field. The school was the “ideal” site, Mr. Bancroft said, and was chosen in an effort to avoid disrupting businesses in the area that have already suffered due to the pandemic.

Mr. Bancroft has previously conducted training for the Greenport Fire Department and others on the North Fork. He is retired from the Air Force and has worked as deputy chief on Plum Island. 

Mr. Bancroft’s military background has accustomed him to always being ready for anything. And in an effort to make this training more robust, he has invited individuals who have responded in mass shootings such as Columbine, Las Vegas and Coral Springs to speak in preparation for the training. “I brought them all out and we try to learn lessons from them,” Mr. Bancroft said “I just don’t like to be caught unprepared for anything.”

The training comes as the nation faces consecutive mass casualty incidents at a supermarket in Buffalo and an elementary school in Texas. Ten people were killed in Buffalo and 19 children and two teachers were killed Tuesday in one classroom, the worst school shooting since Sandy Hook a decade ago.

The training will be broken up into a two-drill scenario. The focal points will be assessing interoperability among the agencies and communications, Mr. Bancroft said.

The training will involve 24 local agencies, including ambulance companies representing areas from Orient to Mastic. Local fire departments will also be on site with crews and equipment. Suffolk County and Southold Town police will also participate.

During the training, firefighters, police and EMTs will respond to a mock mass shooting. Town and county police will partner and create teams to neutralize the shooter inside the school.

The second part of the training will deal with the victims and patients in that hypothetical scenario.

SCPD will send its major emergency response vehicle, which can transport eight to 10 people at a time, according to Mr. Bancroft.

Communication capabilities will also be tested. Mr. Bancroft said he’d like to practice using the national incident management system set up by President George W. Bush after the 9/11 attacks.

“Communications historically has been an issue … it shouldn’t be,” Mr. Bancroft said.

Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead hosted a similar mass casualty training exercise in 2018.

First assistant chief Alain De Kerillis of the Greenport Fire Department contacted Mr. Bancroft seven months ago to initiate planning for this training.

“I felt if we could do one and get everyone involved, it would be beneficial to all agencies participating in knowing what resources are available,” Mr. De Kerillis said.

There will be an area where observers can watch the training. Mr. Bancroft said various local school boards have already indicated they would be in attendance.

“We’re trying to put the best product out, to serve the community, that we can,” Mr. Bancroft said.