Miami-Dade County

If there's ever a mass casualty inside the Miami Tunnel, first responders will be ready

Agencies including Miami-Dade Fire and Miami Fire work to rescue "victims" during a staged multi-vehicle car crash in the Miami Tunnel, April 24, 2018.
Agencies including Miami-Dade Fire and Miami Fire work to rescue "victims" during a staged multi-vehicle car crash in the Miami Tunnel, April 24, 2018. Miami Tunnel

It seemed real.

Shattered glass. Twisted metal. People calling for help.

First responders rushed to Miami Tunnel to access the scene.

But it was all for practice.

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Agencies including Miami-Dade Fire and Miami Fire rescue "victims" during a staged multi-vehicle car crash in the Miami Tunnel, April 24, 2018. Laura C. Sala/Miami Tunnel

The staged accident Tuesday night was a drill in order to test the multiple-agency response to a crash or other potential mass-casualty incident inside the nearly one-mile tunnel.

"With all that is going around us today and all we see, we feel like we really need to be prepared at all times for anything," said Miami Tunnel CEO Christopher Hodgkins.

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It took nearly 100 people — including rescuers and "victims" — to complete the drill.

Crews from Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, Miami-Dade Police Department, City of Miami Fire Rescue and the Miami Tunnel responded after the initial call of an accident involving three passenger cars, a van and a cargo truck. In all, there were 30 "victims."

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Agencies including Miami-Dade Fire and Miami Fire work to rescue "victims" during a staged multi-vehicle car crash in the Miami Tunnel, April 24, 2018. Laura C. Sala/Miami Tunnel

Rescues in a tunnel can be a challenge because of the confined space and the fact that the tunnel is 120 feet below sea level, Hodgkins said.

After many of the victims were extricated from the twisted metal using real equipment, the injured were loaded on stretchers and carried through passageways to get to the westbound tunnel for waiting ambulances.

Hodgkins said, overall, the drill was a success.

"We need to be vigilant and we need to be ready if something should happen," he said. "Training is a big part of that."

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