Massive explosions, clouds of smoke and bloody victims set the scene. Fire trucks are heard in the background as people begin screaming for help. There are no thoughts, only action, for the nursing majors at Piedmont College as they participate in their first scenario of saving lives.
“Most of the nurses here are juniors or seniors, so they’re just a little ways away from working in a hospital,” says Dave Palmer from District 2 Public Health. “The smoke, the noise, the lights. This is what they will be faced with when they graduate into their careers.”
On Wednesday, March 27, Piedmont College held its annual disaster drill for senior nursing students to gain real-world experience. At approximately 10 a.m an explosion went off in the paint shop of the Swanson Center, “harming” the junior nursing students who played victims in the fire. With over 100 senior nursing students waiting to tend to the wounded, EMS and first responders began racing toward the college for medical assistance.
“Shortly after the explosion, Demorest Fire and Police Department arrived on scene. Followed by Habersham County Medical Center and EMS, Habersham Fire Department and Homeland Security,” says Piedmont Police Chief Jim Andrews. “Habersham Search and Rescue even had their dogs out searching for another bomb.”
The main goal of the R.H College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Piedmont is to make this drill appear as realistic as they possibly can. A long period of planning goes into the event so that Habersham County and the Piedmont College faculty members can provide a thrilling experience for the students.
“We gained approval for this year’s theme over the summer and planning for the drill began shortly after,” says Assistant Professor of Nursing Karen Greilich. “Multi-agency meetings took place trying to figure out victims, simulated injuries and where the landing of an aircraft could occur.”
Professor of Theatre Henry Johnson made the explosive material for the fake bomb and was amazed at the success and realistic scenario of this year’s drill.
“It’s a very extensive facility… all the props are made of combustible materials so a fire could easily start here,” says Johnson. “Combining all of these realistic elements will surely prepare the nursing students for their careers.”