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Agencies train for mass medical crisis

AMBER TWP. — Cries of, “Help, I’ve been shot!” rang through the school as actors covered in fake blood waited for first responders to address their simulated injuries.

The event was a full-scale disaster training exercise Saturday morning for Mason County Emergency Management, Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital and various first responder agencies.

At about 7 a.m., the training began at the West Shore Educational Services District, and the scenario was to rescue, triage and transport the casualties of a mass-shooting from the school to the hospital. The purpose was to test and improve local emergency response capabilities for a potential catastrophe, such as a mass-casualty incident following an active assailant attack.

An estimated 100 people participated in the exercise, including sheriff’s deputies, firefighters, paramedics and hospital workers, as well as school employees and community members, about 20 of whom were the scenario’s “victims.”

“They’re not ‘victims,’ they’re survivors, because we expect you guys to save everyone,” Liz Reimink, the Mason County Emergency Management coordinator, told the first responders before the scenario began.

Each of the victims had one or more simulated injuries for the first responders to react to. Injuries ranged in severity from swollen ankles and heart attacks to gunshot wounds and broken bones. That meant that many victims wore plenty of fake blood and other movie makeup, which was applied to look realistic thanks to the help of two members of the Benzie County Community Emergency Response Team and other helpers.

“Treat every injury like it’s real, regardless of the quality of the makeup,” Reimink said, adding with humor, “We are not the ‘Walking Dead.’ We try our hardest, but we are not.”

Reimink said the fake injuries provided important visual cues, and she thanked the victims for spending their Saturday morning assisting the scenario.

“Your injuries that you’re simulating are key for us to have realistic training for our responders,” she told them.

First responders had to evaluate the severity of the injuries and make sure that those who were in the most critical condition received the highest priority care.

Each victim played the role of a child, parent or school official. The victims were also part of the evaluation team, so that after the scenario, they could provide a critique regarding how they were treated by the responders and hospital.

Reimink said the exercise was an opportunity for the first responders to take the emergency knowledge they’ve learned during class time and the skills they’ve practiced and apply that know-how, first-hand in a realistic, large-scale scenario. This helped them develop their response abilities further, and will help authorities improve their emergency plans and coordination.

Other evaluators included Reimink — who organized the exercise — emergency management coordinators from other counties and the first responders’ supervisors for their agencies.

At the school, the responders coordinated as rescue task force teams. This scenario was simulating only the “second wave” of emergency response, so no one was playing the role of the active shooter, and the focus of the exercise was on the aftermath of the attack by finding and evacuating the victims.

Law enforcement officers provided security for the rescue teams by entering the school first. With practice pistols drawn, they searched for threats, clearing and securing each hallway and room. The victims were located, and medics helped transport them to ambulances outside.

After the initial triage of the victims, everyone was transported to Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital to continue the drill through the hospital’s mass-casualty plans. The hospital workers received and sorted patients, while some people role-played as the parents of the victims, who had to be reconnected with their children.

No patient care was simulated at the hospital for the exercise, and normal hospital operations were not impacted, according to Reimink.

Agencies that participated in the exercise included Scottville, Hamlin, Riverton, Custer and Fountain fire departments, Life EMS, the Mason County Sheriff’s Office and the Ludington Police Department, Reimink said.


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Show near marina deemed success

The Western Michigan Boat, RV, Outdoor and Home Show saw several measures of success over the weekend as it concluded Sunday afternoon near Ludington’s municipal marina.

Off-and-on rain showers, mist and overcast skies didn’t stop people from taking in the fourth annual show.

“The weather was not a deterrent who were ready to buy,” said Banks Dishmon, chief revenue officer for the Ludington Daily News, the presenting sponsor for the show.

Dishmon said the recreation vehicle and boat dealers saw successes from sales, even in the sometimes rainy day on Friday.

“Our RV people sold several units. Boat guys did the same thing,” he said. “It was a success for everybody.”

Dishmon said the feedback he has received was positive not just with sales, but the foot traffic that came through the various vendors that lined portions of Filer, William and Loomis streets around the marina.

“People are looking to buy,” Dishmon said. “Every one of (the vendors) has been very pleased with the amount of traffic and the sales.”

He estimated that over the three day period that began last Friday and finished on Sunday afternoon that between 2,500 and 3,000 people came out to the show.

All of the vendors that were on hand for the show have committed to next year’s event that will move a few weeks earlier on the calendar. The fifth Western Michigan Boat, RV, Outdoor and Home Show is scheduled for Aug. 28 through 30, the weekend before Labor Day in 2020.

“We have a verbal commitment from a new boat dealer (for next year),” Dishmon said. “And we have one here that plans to double their space.”

The mix of music — which was well received — and food was available, too. A car show was also a part of this year’s event. Dishmon said membes of the Pere Marquette Historical Motoring Club were there, plus a few more.

“We had people here who weren’t a part of the car club or who brought their cars out,” he said.


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Ludington ad hoc marijuana committee pushes back report to Friday, Sept. 13

The ad hoc committee formed by the City of Ludington and its ordinances regarding marijuana will delay its report for public release until Friday, Sept. 13.

In a statement, Ludington Mayor Steve Miller said a proposed timeline for releasing the report was slated for today, Monday, Sept. 9.

“I apologize on behalf of the ad hoc Committee for the delay,” he stated in the release, citing formatting and editing issues. “However, we felt it best to submit a report we were fully confident with its content and delivery method.”

A portion of the report was to include a non-scientific survey of residents, ages 21 and older, in each of the six wards. The survey was prepared to ask for community input on the council’s potential decision. However, Miller stated the scheduling of volunteers was “not completed satisfactorily as had been hoped.”

Instead, Miller is soliciting citizen feedback, and that feedback needs to be directed to the city councilor representing the ward where they reside.

A committee of the whole public comment meeting will be at 7 p.m., Monday, Sept. 16, at the Ludington Area Center of the Arts to seek more opinions.

“I encourage everyone with an opinion to take full advantage of the opportunity to speak directly to council on Monday, (Sept.) 16 at the public comment meeting at LACA,” Miller stated, “and/or, contact the councilors directly via email with remarks addressing the matter-at-hand.”

Miller stated the ad hoc committee would dissolve on Sept. 23. The city council is expected to take action on Monday, Oct. 14, as to whether to allow or not allow marijuana establishments within the city limits.


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Trooper Butterfield memorial tonight

Trooper Butterfield memorial tonight

FREE SOIL TWP. — The annual memorial ceremony to remember and honor Michigan State Police Trooper Paul Butterfield will be held today beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the roadside memorial site.

Butterfield was killed by a gunshot during a traffic stop at the site while on duty Sept. 9, 2013. The memorial is built at the site, located on Custer Road between Townline and Gajeski roads, just south of Free Soil.

Each year on the anniversary of Butterfield’s death in the line of duty, a memorial service is held by local police and other first responders, Butterfield’s loved ones and others wishing to show their respects.

Butterfield served in the Michigan State Police Hart and Manistee posts, and he was a U.S. Army veteran.


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Plant sale supports Garden Club

People perused the petals and looked at the leaves during the annual Fall Plant sale hosted by the Mason County Garden Club Saturday.

The event, held at Ludington’s Leveaux Park — which is nestled at the corner of Ludington Avenue and Staffon Street — has been a fundraiser for at least 25 years, with the proceeds benefitting the garden club’s many community service projects.

More than 100 of the flowers for the plant sale, such as the mums, were donated by the local stores Lowe’s, Walmart, Home Depot, The Giving Tree and The Market. But the rest of the more than 300 plants for sale were grown in the personal gardens of club members.

“We grow our plants, and then we bring them and share them,” said Marilyn Raymond, who was one of the co-chairs, and has helped with the plant sale for about 20 years.

Some club members brought their own little red wagons to the plant sale, so that customers could use them as shopping carts.

Rebecca Mott, of Hamlin Township, said this was her first year arriving at the plant sale early enough in the morning to buy some shade plants. She said that usually the shade plants sell out quickly.

“It’s a great event,” Mott said. “I love to spend time in my garden, and I always like to try new plants.”

The plants were priced from $1 to $5, and they included a wide variety, from perennials and house plants to shrubs and tree seedlings. There was also a table of miscellaneous garden items, such as books, bird feeders, ornaments and planting pots.

Raymond said it took a lot of members to make the event happen.

“Members came and did all of the weeding and cleaning up of the park, getting it all nice,” she said. “But we also do it all (season) long — spring, summer, fall.”

Every year since the garden club was founded in 1926, members have tended many of the plants in public parks throughout Mason County, and the club currently has about 72 members. The plant sale helps support those gardening efforts and more.

“It’s a community fundraiser that we do to help out the people of Mason County and all of the groups that we can donate to,” Raymond said.

The club helps maintain the gardens at the parks and sidewalk pots in Ludington, Scottville and White Pine Village, including the veteran’s memorials, and other locations. Members also participate in the Ludington Petunia Parade.

Karen Klukowski, another co-chair for the plant sale, said the club takes care of the public gardens so that people can experience the flowers and plants.

“They come and enjoy the parks, and the veteran’s families come and enjoy the veteran’s memorial gardens,” Klukowski said.

The club also helps with garden therapy for the seniors at Ludington Woods and provides mugs filled with fresh flowers, called “Cups of Cheer,” to people in nursing homes.

The club also funds a scholarship to West Shore Community College for students pursuing horticulture or biological sciences.

For fundraisers, the club hosts the plant sale in the fall and a plant exchange in the spring, and the biggest fundraiser is the club’s Garden Walk, which is now held in July of alternating years.

Raymond added that the club is a great way for people to get to know other gardeners and to share knowledge about which plants grow the best locally and tips to grow them well.

For more information, visit the website www.masoncountygardenclub.org or the Facebook page Mason County Garden Club.