As the old saying goes, “practice makes perfect.” That is what happened at Piedmont College on Wednesday Mar. 24. Senior nursing students from both the Demorest and Athens campuses participated in the annual Piedmont College disaster drill to gain in the field experience for their future careers.
“There’s nothing better,” said Piedmont College Assistant Vice President for Facilities, Management, and Safety, Fred Bucher. “They’re about one year away from doing this for real.”
Senior Piedmont College nursing students participated in realistic conditions of a disaster crisis at the Swanson Center in Demorest, GA. Arrangements were made by the Demorest Fire Department, Piedmont College Campus Police, Habersham County Ambulances, Georgia Health System Trauma, Acute Care Services, and Habersham County Emergency Medical Services to appear and assist these nurses. This disaster was an ultimate testament of hard work, dedication, and experience. Other preparations included Piedmont College Campus Police shutting down nearby roads as well as the pedestrian bridge to the Swanson center. The inside of the Swanson Center was smoked out with fog machines, and underclassmen nursing students were lying on the ground inside and outside the building appearing with fake blood visible on their bodies. Other Piedmont College students served as media documenting the event. The media’s duties included interviewing victims, nurses and first responders. This drill was intentionally designed to be as realistic as possible for these nursing students and mass communication students.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to learn how to respond to these situations, work on your toes, and work on teamwork and communication,” said senior nursing major Jennifer Daniel. “I think it’s important to know how to control your brain in the middle of stressful situations, when people scream at you, you don’t scream back, and try to be patient while also being focused and ready to move.”
Victims were each given different injuries and roles to play in the experiment. For example, some victims had head injuries while others had leg injuries or other broken bones. Some victims were required to act flirtatious with the nurses while other victims would pilfer medical supplies, cell phones or other materials that were lying on the ground or from other victims. Other victims were either mentally traumatized, mildly to severely injured or even deceased.
“I think [the nurses] definitely need this for the experience so they can have skill at a wide range of things and be as well-rounded as possible,” said senior athletic training major Max Miller. “It definitely changes my mindset on being a rescuer.”
Miller’s role in the drill this year was as a victim of the disaster. Since he is part of a five-year study for athletic training at Piedmont, he will participate in the drill next year as one of the rescuers who will work to save the victims.
This medical initiation really taught these young nursing students how to respond to their call of duty in a real-life medical emergency. This drill does not just show what these nurses have been learning for the past four years, but it also gives the nurses the confidence, skills and poise to deal with real life situations for their future careers.