Volunteers cared for during emergency drill
THE SANTA CLARA
May 1, 2014
Uniformed students raced around the lawns surrounding O’Connor Hall and Alviso Street assisting dozens of “injured” students after a mock earthquake on Sunday afternoon.
Every year, Emergency Medical Services tests its Mass Casualty Incident protocol to see how well-equipped the organization is for a devastating event. Although there weren’t any real injuries involved in the annual Mass Casualty Incident, emergency medical technicians put forth the intense dedication that would be required to handle a real disaster.
“Say an event were to injure a thousand people, it would be declared a Mass Casualty Incident because the system cannot handle that many patients at once,” said EMT Michael Gavrilovic. “A lot of the normal protocols that you see EMS performing go out the window. Instead we try and do the most amount of good for the most amount of people.”
The group of 34 student EMTs reported to Cowell Health Center Sunday morning for the mock earthquake. They quickly proceeded to O’Connor Hall to assess the damage and offer medical assistance.
Upon receiving an “all clear” from Campus Safety Services, the EMTs entered the building and triaged the 33 volunteers who played the roles of injured individuals.
The patients, selected from the Department of Theatre and Dance and the Santa Clara EMS training class, were strategically placed throughout the building. Each were assigned an injury description earlier that morning.
“The volunteers did a great job,” said Joe Choy, another Santa Clara EMT. “It was really realistic. They were just screaming their heads off. You really felt the pressure of a real situation.”
Abby Hazelitt, a sophomore theater major, played the role of a student whose eardrums had burst in the chaos of the earthquake and were bleeding profusely.
“After waiting for the EMTs to find me, I was placed on a backboard and carried outside,” said Hazelitt. “It was almost scary. They put an oxygen mask on me, and I had five different EMTs come up to me, addressing my injuries.”
Once the patients were removed from the building, EMTs treated them for a variety of injuries. It was up to the discretion of the volunteers on how they chose to interpret their assigned injury.
“The further they take it, the more valuable it is to us,” said Kate Rosen, a fellow member of the EMT team. “People are going to be hysterical during an actual event.”
This year, the triage and treatment aspects of the exercise were concluded in under an hour, the fastest it has ever been done. Members of the team concluded that it was one of the more successful MCI practices in recent years.
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