ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. – A group of paramedics and firefighters from across the region took part in a simulation of a disaster scenario Thursday as part of a week-long search and rescue training event.

“You are not able to move much. Your patient can’t move much,” said Blake Gabbard. “We have the opportunity to learn how to do IVs in that environment, and patient care in that environment, and the different things that you deal with, with low lighting and tight spaces.”

The simulation environment was built with shipping containers, pieces of concrete, and rocks. Organizers said it is also based on real-life 911 calls.

“Try to recreate the best we can to make it as realistic as we can. We’ve responded to tornado events, building collapses, people stuck literally in a pipe,” said Deputy Chief Jeremy Hollrah of the St. Charles County Ambulance District. “There is ways to get them out safely, and that’s what this group specializes in.”

This training helps prepare first responders for natural disasters.

“Inevitably, it does happen. We see tornadoes in this area; we’re close to the earthquake fault lines,” Hollrah said.

He said first responders use the skills they’ve learned over the last week during their normal calls.

“Our patients fallen into tight spaces or are trapped in cars, and we have to position ourselves in unusual spaces to start an IV with their arm upside down or things like that,” Gabbard said. “All these are the same skills we’re taught and exercise on a regular basis. It’s also something that is drastically different when you’re working in a limited environment with limited equipment and help. That definitely brings more challenges to it.”