WTHR-TV has been looking into the police, fire and EMS response to the August 13 stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair just before a planned perfomance by the group Sugarland that left seven people dead and scores injured. The story above focuses on the official release of audio tapes and a redacted Indianapolis Fire Department after action report the TV station obtained. WTHR looks at coordination between the fire department, Indiana State Police and Indiana Homeland Security and what, if any, mass casualty plan was in place at the Indiana State Fair.
According to reporter Sandra Chapman, the fire department was asked to provide EMS units for the fair for the first time in a decade and had been assisting in a support role, but after the collapse ended up "leading the command by default".
One of the most significant issues, according to WTHR-TV, was getting ambulances in and out of the fair grounds. Here are excerpts from the story:
"We need to rethink our strategy. It's not working. We need to get the trucks down here in order for us to start working the medical thing to get patients out of here. Do what we have to do. Have state police open up the line. But we need to get the trucks up here. We can't keep having the patients dragged across the pavement up to you," said the commander.
"What kind of plan do you have? What resources do you have down there? We're starting to go critical on a lot of our patients. They're starting to go from yellow to red on us, they're going into shock," warned another responder desperate to get patients help.
In the video above. another story focusing on more aspects of the response to the incoming weather and the MCI.
From the AP:
There's new information about the tragic Indiana state fair stage collapse in August. The chilling emergency radio calls for help and behind the scenes details were made public Thursday.
“State police 13-c looks like about 30 minutes or less before weather comes in,” was the first call for possible trouble.
For the first time, confirmation that state police were awaiting the storm's arrival moments before the stage collapsed at the Indiana State Fair.
The warnings began at 8:38 p.m., five minutes before the collapse.
“All units, all units, severe thunderstorm warnings at 9:45 for Marion County. Use your best judgment, find shelter when needed," officials said on the tapes.
Two minutes later, a voice of concern, thousands of people were still awaiting the Sugarland concert, standing right in front of the stage. That's when we hear the call inquiring whether fans had been moved to safety.
“Have they released fans from the grandstands yet?" an official could be heard asking in the tapes.
“I have no information on that I will check and advise,“ another official responded.
Three minutes later, a lone radio call of sheer panic.
“The stage has collapsed. (inaudible) …I'm calling a mass casualty.“
That was at 8:40 p.m. Seconds later, reports of the human toll began trickling in. Some trapped, others going into shock. Those critically injured were code reds, the walking wounded were greens and yellows. The dead, tagged in black.
“Multiple reds. Multiple reds. Unknown blacks. I need everything to the grandstand. I've got at least one with a head injury,“ one official said in the tapes.
At 8:48 p.m. with heavy rain and more wind expected, it was a scramble to evacuate.
“Unknown type of weather. We may need to expedite evacuating the rest of the major grandstands. “
“Copy that, working with state police on evacuations at this time. “
And then the first descriptions of the chaotic scene, the devastation and the need for help in a hurry.
Situation is this, the stage framework and the speakers have collapsed onto the rows of chairs just in front.
“Can you estimate total quantity of patients? “
“A lot. “
“Do you think we need to start more than five units? “
“I've got one behind the stage, black tag done.”
The first reported fatality, just 11 minutes after the collapse.
The collapse took the lives of seven individuals including Tri-State resident, Megan Toothman .