EMT Students Gain Real-World Experience Through Mass Casualty Drill

Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) students at Ogeechee Technical College (OTC) participated in a mass casualty drill designed to provide hands-on experience managing large-scale emergencies last week.

The scenario involved a fictional tornado that resulted in numerous casualties at a nursing facility. This allowed the students to practice their triage skills in a controlled yet realistic environment.

Georgia’s Region 5 Trauma Education and Outreach Team designed the drill as a Mass Casualty Incident (MCI) Multiverse event. While the EMT students participated hands-on, several hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, emergency management, EMS agencies, fire departments, and health district representatives from throughout Georgia and Florida used the scenario as a virtual tabletop exercise.

“This exercise is crucial for our students,” said Laura Coleman, an instructor in OTC’s Paramedicine Technology program. “It tests their medical knowledge and technical skills and their ability to work under pressure, make quick decisions, and communicate effectively with their team.”

The drill mimicked the chaos and urgency of real-life mass casualty events, with volunteers playing the roles of victims along with manikins with varying degrees of injuries, from minor abrasions to critical, life-threatening conditions. This diversity required the students to rapidly assess, triage, and administer appropriate medical interventions while coordinating with transport teams.

Students rotated through different roles throughout the drill, including search teams, triage officers, and transport coordinators. This rotation ensured that each student experienced multiple facets of emergency response, from an organized search for victims and prioritizing patients, treating patients, and organizing the evacuation of victims to medical facilities. 
Feedback from the participants was overwhelmingly positive. “The drill wasn’t easy, but it was rewarding,” said Kiley Pless, a participant in the exercise. “It showed what a positive impact we can make as EMTs.” Another student echoed this by saying it opened her eyes to how chaotic but rewarding her future career is. 
By integrating such realistic training scenarios into its curriculum, OTC aims to produce EMTs who are technically proficient and mentally prepared to handle the demands of their critical role in emergency medical services. This approach ensures that when these students graduate, they are well-equipped to provide practical, efficient, and compassionate care in the face of disasters.

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