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Emergency Responders Simulate A Columbus Disaster, Just In Case

Columbus Division of Fire

Morning commuters driving by Otterbein University, the MAPFRE stadium or John Glenn International Airport might spot something out of the ordinary: Police cars blocking traffic, sirens, and plenty of injured people.

Don't be alarmed: It's just a drill.

On Tuesday, emergency response agencies will carry out a large-scale disaster drill across Columbus, including 570 volunteers costumed to look like real victims—fake injuries included.

Jodi Keller, Central Ohio's associate director of health care system emergency preparedness, says this is the largest exercise of its kind ever carried out in the region. It's designed to train first responders and hospitals how to handle a large scale disaster or a mass casualty event.

Keller says the need for this sort of test was inspired by the 2015 attacks in Paris. The idea is to stress the emergency response system to point out any weaknesses.

"So we decided that we really needed to put those plans and those activities to the test," Keller says.

The drill will last a total of six hours and require 570 volunteers costumed with fake injuries. All area hospitals are also participating to test how they handle an influx of trauma patients.