If a disaster hits, they’ll be ready

DARRINGTON — Johanna Lentes looked to be badly injured and was on orders to frustrate the rescuers working to pull her from a collapsed building.

“I was underneath a door and could only speak German the whole time,” said Lentes, 16, a German exchange student at Darrington High School.

The teen was among more than a dozen people on Sunday pretending to be trapped and injured in a flood-damaged building as part of a disaster drill on the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Reservation.

It felt like Halloween with all of the fake blood and horror-movie-quality injuries, which were meant to test disaster volunteers’ medical knowledge.

“I had broken glass sticking out of my skin, was fading in an out of consciousness and couldn’t move my legs,” said Harmony Harvey, 14, one of the mock injured.

Dylan Estrem, 14, of Camano Island didn’t fare much better. He had a fake wooden spike in his gut.

In a T-shirt, he didn’t have to pretend to be shivering on the cold and rainy Sunday afternoon in the mountain foothills.

Hundreds of people from 37 agencies were part of the drill, including Snohomish and Skagit county rescue workers, the Darrington Fire Department and Tulalip Tribes.

For practice, tribal officials evacuated some of the 88 people living on the reservation as part of the drill. A hovercraft helped carry flood victims across the river in a related drill nearby.

All of the practice helps eliminate the panic emergency volunteers might feel while trying to help during a disaster, said Lynda Harvey, the emergency management director for Tulalip Tribes.

About 30 people hauled boards and doors from the damaged building, freeing and carrying out injured people as they went.

“It really gets scary. It’s quite an ordeal,” said Frankie Nations, a Darrington city councilwoman learning skills in CERT — Community Emergency Response Training.

Janice Mabee, Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe chairwoman, also was at the drill to complete the CERT course.

She said there’s a slough running behind homes on the reservation that has tribal leaders worried. Before 1949, it was the main channel of the Sauk River.

It wouldn’t take much for the river to jump back into the channel and chew through homes, leaders fear.

“We can’t trust our river in back of us and have to be prepared,” Mabee said. “We have to impress upon our people that the river does migrate.”

Reporter Jeff Switzer: 425-339-3452 or jswitzer@heraldnet.com.

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