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HCC nursing and paramedic students practice treating mass casualties

Criminal Response Emergency Assessment scenario is given to students every spring

April 16, 2011|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com
  • Deb Scott, right, a paramedic student at Hagerstown Community College, checks the vital signs for Emily Cole, an HCC nursing student simulating being exposed to poison gas, Saturday during a Criminal Response Emergency Assessment scenario.
By Colleen McGrath, Staff Photographer

Nursing and paramedic students at Hagerstown Community College got a taste Saturday morning of what it would be like to treat mass casualties during a disaster scenario that was staged at the campus.

Pat Williams, chairwoman of HCC's disaster drill committee, said the Criminal Response Emergency Assessment scenario is given to the students every spring.

"They can role play and not injure anybody," Williams said. "We look at what we do well, and what we don't do well, and what we can do to improve."

Williams said half the nursing students portrayed casualties, while the other half treated them. Regardless of what role they played, the students were able to learn by being part of the scenario.

"It can be a lot more stressful when you hear all the other commotion going on," said Heather Ware, a nursing student who is to graduate in May. "I think I've learned things a lot better this way."

Nursing student Rhonda Kendall said the training gave the students a chance to apply what they learned in the classroom.

"It's making us think critically and put everything we learned in class to practice," she said.

The nurses set up shop in a mock hospital on the first floor of the Career Programs Building. The paramedic students brought patients to the nurses from a nerve-gas scenario on the second floor. Many of the patients wore makeup and went into fake convulsions to simulate injuries.

"This whole disaster is to get the students familiar with some of the complications that occur with these disasters," said Devin Buries, coordinator of HCC's paramedic program.

He stressed to his students that they shouldn't rush into a disaster without assessing a situation, or they might become casualties as well. He said it's possible that some of the injured might die while paramedics waited for decontamination professionals to arrive at the scene.

"The idea is to limit further casualties," he said.

Susan Payne, lab coordinator in the Career Services Building, said two doctors were on-hand to give the students guidance.

"It's supposed to simulate what could happen in a real emergency room," she said. "The purpose is to educate these students."

Payne said the students would spend the morning participating in the drill and discuss what they learned after lunch.

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