At long last, the time is here.
Time to head north and visit with my family, that I have not seen since last February and March.
In mid-February, I flew back to a very snowy southern Wisconsin for the weekend, to attend an EMT Refresher Class, so I could renew my EMT-Basic License in Wisconsin.
During that weekend, I was able to see my wife (Blond Girl), my daughter and youngest son for parts of two days.
Then it was fly back down here to the Mississippi Gulf Coast until late March, when I flew from Gulfport out to Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina for a four day-visit with my wife, who had flown in from Madison, Wisconsin, and our oldest son, his wife and their two, young sons, in Durham, NC.
Since that late March visit to NC, I have been back down here in the Long Beach area on the gulf coast, working weekdays at the SMRC to pay my living expenses, and continuing my two-year personal mission as a Hurricane Katrina recovery volunteer, helping folks here to rebuild their homes and lives.
Tuesday morning, my buddy Andrea from work, will drive me to the airport to fly back to Madison, where a member of my family will be waiting to pick me up and take me to my home south of Madison, where oldest son and his family, my daughter and youngest son will be waiting for a happy family reunion.
We will all be together until the following Saturday, when oldest son and his family will fly back to Durham. It will be good to see everyone again!
The following week, then, will find me getting ready for the Annual Boscobel, Wisconsin Muskets and Memories Civil War Weekend Reenactment, on Saturday, August 2 and Sunday, August 3. This event is one of the premier civil war reenactment events in the mid-western United States, drawing around 1,000 reenactors each year, and one I have been attending for about 10 years now.
With that many reenactors all in one place, for an entire weekend, most of whom are wearing wool pants, coats and hats, and many carrying Springfield reproduction muskets tipped with long bayonets, about 60-70 of them riding horses in the Union and Confederate Cavalry units, and 80-100 or so of them manning and firing 30+ cannons (Big Guns), in what is normally the hottest and most humid weather of the summer, there exists a high probability that some of them will need emergency medical attention sometime during that weekend.
And that’s where myself and about 15-20 other EMS personnel come in.
For the past eight or nine years, I have had the privilege of serving as a Muskets and Memories Organizing Board Member, as well as the Volunteer Director of the Muskets and Memories Grounds EMS Response Team.
My job annually is to recruit the EMS volunteers from around southwestern Wisconsin EMS Units for the EMS Response Team, plan, prepare for and oversee the EMS Response Team Plan for the event, as well as to obtain and deploy sufficient EMS equipment, materials and supplies to adequately implement the Plan, and to oversee the setup of the EMS Compound within the Encampment Grounds.
Each day of the event, an hour-long battle is held on the event grounds, in the early afternoon, reenacting an actual battle which occurred during the American Civil War. The battle scenarios are all scripted ahead of time, detailing troop movements, cavalry actions and artillery shelling.
Within the various units involved in the battle, assignments are made as to who in each unit will “take a hit,” and go down, either as wounded or killed in action, to simulate the wound and kill ratios which actually occurred during the original battle.
To prepare for the daily battle, the EMS Response Team volunteers deploy camouflaged ice chests and water containers at strategic locations around and on the battlefield, which will serve as replenishment stations for EMS Teams stationed all around and on the battlefield, so they may replenish their pails of ice and water during the battles.
The EMS Response Team members are all wearing special EMT/EMS safety yellow, high-visibility t-shirts, have EMS fanny packs, and EMS portable radios on their person so that they may communicate with the Response Team Dispatcher in the Command RV, whenever they learn of a medical emergency anywhere on the event grounds. When that happens, the EMS Dispatcher sends the appropriate EMS response to the emergency location.
When the responding EMS Team arrives at the emergency location, they assesses the situation, provide First responder medical aid, and report their situation and requests for any additional aid to the EMS Dispatcher. If ambulance transport is needed, the Dispatcher immediately calls Grant County to page out an ambulance to the event grounds.
Each day for the battle, several members of the EMS Response Team actually dress up in either Union or Confederate uniforms and “take the field” with the troops for the battle, and respond to battlefield emergencies from their locations on the field.
In addition, several EMS Teams respond to emergencies directly from their assigned stations around the battlefield, to emergencies such as horse accidents, injuries, heat-related problems, bee stings and other injuries and conditions requiring the battle to stop while EMS Team members respond to and provide emergency assessment and treatment for the condition presented.
With several of its crew killed, what’s left of this Union artillery crew fires another burst at the Confederate line advancing on their position, during daily battle action at the Annual Boscobel, Wisconsin Muskets and Memories Civil War Weekend.
There are also 1-2 local ambulances and crews staged on the edge of the battlefield to provide transport to the local hospital, when needed for serious conditions requiring transport during the daily battle.
The EMS Grounds Response Team operates out of a special fenced compoundlocated at the front gate where reenactors enter the event grounds. The Compound special resources includes the Grant County Emergency Management Dispatch Communications RV, one of the County’s Mass Casualty Trailers (full of goodies like back boards, EMS Jump Kits – including O2 bottles, fanny packs and more), two 10′x20′ pop-up tents – for triage and cooling down, and supplies storage, two John Deere gators units, one Special Event Field Ambulance, and a large camper for several EMTs to live right on the premises from Thursday evening until the event is over on Sunday evening, to provide 24-hour Walk-in EMS coverage to all of the approximately 1,000 reenactors camped on the event grounds.
Near the end of a recent Sunday battle at the Boscobel, Wisconsin Civil War Reenactment, EMT members of the EMS Response Team attend to a serious over heating patient on the battlefield. EMTs surround the battlefield and are in uniform on the battlefield for just such medical emergencies. Can you pick out the EMTs? The women in the blue dress, the Union soldier to her immediate left is a paramedic, the second Union soldier to her right is an EMT, plus, of course, the three EMTs in the safety yellow t-shirts.
The weekend is a special time for all involved, from the reenactors, to the EMTs, to the several thousand paying spectators who will all experience a little bit of living history of their country and their ancestors. Most of the event EMS volunteers are returning EMTs who have participated in several previous Muskets & Memories reenactments, and have such a good experience, they return year after year.
Personally, I have been a civil war reenactor for the past 11 years, and had 6 great great grandfathers
who fought with the Union armies during that terrible conflict, which claimed in access of 620,000 Union and Confederate lives during the 1861-1865 war.
I had the opportunity and privilege of participating in the largest civil war reenactment ever held in the United States, ten years ago, at the 135th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, where there were over 28,000 reenactors and over 35,000 spectators on hand daily for that incredible 3-day event, held on a 2,000-acre ranch just two miles from the actual battlefield!
It has been a special privilege to share this annual amazing reenactment experience at Boscobel with these dedicated and knowledgeable EMTs and Paramedics all these years. Their hard work and professional responses to the battlefield emergencies make me look very good. You guys are absolutely great!
God willin’ and the crick don’t rise too high, there will be more special times in the future.
If you find yourself in the Boscobel area, in southwestern Wisconsin, on Aug. 2nd or Aug. 3rd, stop by and say hello, and be treated to an incredible experience!
Keep your powder dry, hear?