Rapid Response: Involve Health Department, media early in MCIs of unknown cause

Make information sharing a part of your mass casualty incident protocols, especially in incidents involving children or unknown illness


FireRescue1 Executive Editor Marc Bashoor responded to the Camp Cloverleaf 4-H summer camp in Highlands County, Fla., in his role as public safety director. A total of 33 children and three adults were transported to local hospitals with nausea, vomiting, aches and pains, and some fevers, with undetermined cause.

What happened: At about 7:30 p.m. Thursday evening, Highlands County Fla. (where I serve as the Public Safety director) received a 911 call reporting that a few children at a Camp Cloverleaf 4-H Camp were sick, with one passed out. The first arriving unit found a chaotic scene with camp counselors carrying kids to the ambulance.

Why it’s significant: With 20 or more children reported ill, ALS1 quickly called a mass casualty dispatch, bringing three additional ALS units. Highlands County operates nine ALS transport units, with three county hospitals to transport to.

There were 115 children from six different Florida counties at the camp for a week-long stay. All the patients were complaining of nausea, vomiting, and aches and pains, with some fevers.

Ultimately, 33 children and three adults were transported to two of the area hospitals, which called in extra staff to assist.

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