DCCC casualty drill reveals EMT students ready for the worst

Students put what they learned in two yers in practice
Apr. 27, 2013 @ 06:05 AM

Students in the Emergency Medical Science program at Davidson County Community College on Wednesday faced a horrific scene at the old mental health building on Lexington Avenue. 
Multiple gunshot victims, including an infant, cried for help as SWAT personnel went room to room looking for a possible suspect. Amidst the chaos, students had to rely on their training to treat as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time.
While Wednesday's staged mass casualty scenario was part of the course for students, the exercise is designed to prepare them for what they may face in the future. 
"The goal is for them to be able to actually work a chaotic scene like this and get that experience before they do it in real life," said Hank Stowe, an EMS faculty member at DCCC. "This gives them the chance to put to use everything they've learned over the past two years in a complicated scenario."
All 24 students in the two-year program participated in the exercise. Second-year students treated and triaged victims, who were being played by first-year students and mannequins. Injuries ranged from minor to fatal. Thanks to the DCCC aesthetics program, the scene rivaled any Hollywood movie set.   
"With this scenario specifically, it's not just one person needing help," said Rose McDaniel, associate dean for the DCCC School of Health, Wellness and Public Safety. "You've got multiple folks saying ‘help me.’ They have to triage and figure out who is the most critical and then treat them in order of who needs to be treated first.
“The goal is to provide this opportunity for students so that in the real world they have had an exposure to a situation where they can put that training into practice."
Once students assessed the situation, they were charged with moving critical victims from the scene into ambulances. Victims were taken to Novant Health Thomasville Medical Center.
"We try to make it as real life as possible so that once they get out and start working in the real world, it makes an easier transition for them," said Stowe. "Hopefully, It might not be to this magnitude but they'll see it in their careers."
Second-year students were asked to portray victims in dire need of medical attention. Screams and moans could be heard throughout the building, with some victims trapped under furniture. One high-fidelity mannequin simulated a heart attack victim and another was a infant suffering a gunshot wound to the leg. Two other mannequins were staged as deceased people.  
"I hope this helps the paramedics who are graduating if they ever do have to face an unfortunate evil like this," said first-year student Josh Troxell. "It also helps us see the side of the patients and what they go through in a way. Obviously, they can't really shoot us all but it helps us put ourselves in their shoes. It's a good learning opportunity. We hope this never happens, but if it does we want to be prepared."
Rescue squads from Davidson County, Thomasville and Arcadia assisted with the exercise. Davidson County SWAT medics swept the building, going in with body armor and weapons drawn. 

Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or duke@tvilletimes.com.