JCU EMS put its skills to the test

on .

Abigail Rings
The Carroll News

Students on Sunday afternoon may have been alarmed to see fellow classmates walking around with what appeared to be life-threatening injuries. But as they probably figured out quickly, this was simply the work of some very gifted makeup artists as part of a safety drill.

On Sunday morning, as the rest of the JCU campus slept, 60 students practiced a chemical explosion scenario in one of the Dolan Center for Science and Technology labs. This event, known as a mass casualty incident, was orchestrated by one of JCU’s EMS paramedics, Bethany Luketic.

Luketic explained, "It is a drill for JCU EMS, CSS [Campus Safety Services], and UHFD [University Heights Fire Department]." The event, the first of its kind at JCU, required almost a year of planning and coordination between these three departments, as well as the participation of JCU students.

Brooke Wunderly, the deputy chief of JCU EMS, told The Carroll News it was a major training opportunity for their department because of the large number of new members initiated this past spring.

"It will help to sharpen their skills along with an understanding of how to handle a mass causality incident if, God forbid, it would occur on campus," she said.

The event began at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning. Twenty-nine student volunteers hiked over to Dolan, where some talented makeup artists designed "injuries" for them based on what could happen in a chemical explosion. Everything from minor cuts to gaping wounds to protruding bones and chemical poisoning was represented.

The mood before the event was light and excited, as enthusiastic "victims" and student paramedics eagerly waited for the start of the exercise.

"Victims" were placed in different areas outside Dolan, while teams from UHFD and JCU EMS got into position. Then, the MCI began.

First, a pretend dispatch was sent to the UHFD to alert them that a mass casualty incident had taken place. The senior EMS students then activated their call-tree. Next, UHFD came in and started to triage the victims. Triaging includes approaching a victim, determining their vital signs and their basic injuries and then marking them according to how urgently they needed care. The student paramedics took over from there. The paramedics approached the victims and accessed their triage tags. Different areas were set up according to the urgency of care needed.

Student EMS was in charge of coordinating to which hospitals the victims would be sent. The paramedics practiced how the injuries of the victims would be handled and how to most effectively care for everyone.

In the midst of the event, William Linville, chief of JCU EMS, said he was happy with how the responders were acting. "They are keeping calm and [using] all their skills. I think the rookies will build a good administration in the years to come," he said.

Student paramedics got to practice how to deal with hysterical parents, surprise patients and gory injuries, as well as gurney and backboard work.

During the exercise, UHFD members said they were impressed with the JCU EMS program, noting that the students did an outstanding job. UHFD members also noted it was a very valuable experience because it makes people aware of what could happen if a tragedy like this were to arise.

In addition, UHFD complimented the EMS students on their ability to look past the gore and see the real injuries. They also indicated that it was a great way to build the partnership with the student paramedics, explaining that while the firemen have the tools, the paramedics have the manpower.

The University Heights fire captain even mentioned how impressed he was with the size and capability of the JCU EMS program. As the event was going on, a partnership was forming between JCU EMS and UHFD.

Brian Hurd, JCU’s assistant director of campus police, said that partnership between departments is important. "Now, when the student paramedics and the fire department work together, the people participating can put a name with a face because they have practiced beside them at this event. It creates a higher level of trust between the two," Hurd said.

After the event, student victims also seemed very impressed by the JCU EMS paramedics.

Senior Jessica Calanni said, "It was cool to see how they responded and that they knew what they were doing. I didn’t know that they could handle serious issues like this."

Wunderly expanded on the lack of student knowledge by saying, "The major importance of EMS that most people do not realize is we are trained medical professionals. Granted, we are not doctors or nurses, but we are trained on acute care, which could be life-saving. We learn how to effectively handle critical situations and are a major asset of safety on campus."

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