Training for the Unthinkable: Mass casualty training exercise in Greenport scheduled for June 4

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

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

Practice will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 4, on the school’s football field. The school was the “ideal” site, Mr Bancroft said, and was chosen in order to avoid disrupting businesses in the area which have already suffered from the pandemic.

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

Mr. Bancroft’s military background has accustomed him to being ready for anything. And in an effort to make this training more robust, he invited people who responded to mass shootings such as Columbine, Las Vegas and Coral Springs to speak in preparation for the training. “I’ve taken them all out and we’re trying to learn from them,” Bancroft said. “I just don’t like being caught off guard for anything.”

The training comes as the country grapples with back-to-back incidents with multiple casualties at a Buffalo supermarket and an elementary school in Texas. Ten people were killed in Buffalo and 19 children and two teachers were killed in a classroom on Tuesday, the worst school shooting since Sandy Hook a decade ago.

The training will be divided into a scenario of two exercises. Focal points will assess interoperability between agencies and communications, Bancroft said.

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

During the training, firefighters, police and paramedics will respond to a simulated mass shooting. City and county police will team up and create teams to neutralize the shooter inside the school.

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

SCPD will send its main emergency response vehicle, which can carry eight to 10 people at a time, Bancroft said.

Communication skills will also be tested. Bancroft said he would like to practice using the national incident management system put in place by President George W. Bush after the September 11 attacks.

“Communications has always been a problem…it shouldn’t be,” Bancroft said.

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

First Deputy Chief Alain De Kerillis of the Greenport Fire Department contacted Bancroft seven months ago to begin planning for this training.

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

There will be an area where observers can watch the formation. Mr Bancroft said various local school boards have already indicated they will attend.

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

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