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Regional group prepared to handle emergencies

The Dayton area already has a group in place to manage emergency preparedness in worst-case scenarios such as the bombing at the Boston Marathon.

Formed after the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995, the Metropolitan Medical Response System is the region’s first-responders “when the worst happens,” said David Gerstner, the Dayton fire department’s MMRS coordinator.

The group is funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and includes emergency responders from Montgomery, Clark, Darke, Champaign, Shelby, Preble, Greene and Miami counties as well as area bomb squads. They also work closely with area hospitals, who are integral in treatment of those injured.

The idea behind MMRS was to make sure agencies from across high-population centers, such as the Dayton region, had plans in place to deal with mass casualties ranging from natural disasters to bombings and attacks with weapons of mass destruction. In situations like what happened in Boston, Gerstner said communication is key.

“We first of all have to look at the hazards at the scene and make sure that there’s not going to be something that’s going to cause additional injuries while we’re in process. We have to triage the people, sort them out and take care of the ones who are worst first,” he said.

The organization is in the process of approving a regional plan for mass casualty situations. The MMRS will review this tragedy and use it to better prepare for local emergencies.

“We’ll review the after-action reports and see if there is something we can learn and use that to better our own plans,” Gerstner said.

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