The Disaster Drill

Piedmont College mocked a severe tornado that wiped out the Swanson Center.

 Beginning in 2017, the annual disaster drill help at Piedmont college has allowed students in various majors to experience a real-life scenario to practice in their presumed field of work. The disaster drill is hosted at the Swanson Center in Demorest, Georgia, permitting students to experience and participate in their fields of work for the future. Whether it is a school shooting or a natural disaster, this drill benefits multiple majors for Piedmont College students. The drill for this year mocked a severe tornado, specifically a category three tornado. It was so severe that people lost limbs, smoke filled the Swanson Center, and everything was destroyed. Theater, Mass Communications, and specifically Nursing majors could experience the most realistically possible front-hand situations.

Theater majors practiced makeup and acting skills as students were acting injured, disable, and sometimes incapacitated all while covered in fake wounds, fake blood, and fake bruises. Mass communications majors experienced the opportunity to create breaking news stories, interviews, and live radio shows. Where nursing majors experienced the front lines of this drill, taking care of each victim’s needs and learning how to quickly react in a disaster.

Health Science Major, Maddie Cassidy played one of the victims of the tornado, where next here she explained she will move onto partaking in the health aspect of the drill. For all students in the health sciences departments, usually students begin as a victim then partake in the learning aspect the next year.

“I’m glad they asked me to be a part of the event because it is an amazing event for Piedmont students,” said Cassidy.

Caitlyn Worthy, Junior Nursing Student, played one of the victims in the scene. Worthy explained how the drill allows nursing students to understand how to act quickly in a travesty such as a severe tornado. As Worthy approaches her senior year of nursing, she will aid in helping the victims in next year’s disaster drill.

“Piedmont gives nursing students the ability to be in the field as much as possible. I take clinical now and we are all able to participate in the disaster drill. Having so many ways to practice before becoming a nurse is really awesome,” said Worthy.

After speaking with many students, especially nursing students do not take this opportunity and practice for granted. Most students in all majors agreed that this was a great hands-on experience and much better than being in the classroom.

Both, Chelsea Arnold and Sidney Brandon, Senior Nursing students, added that the event was well put together and understand the depth of what a disaster can do. Arnold gave the example that being out in the field, even it being staged, is a much way better way to learn compared to looking at a mannequin.

“You can learn things all day when you are actually in the field, so it gives you a hands-on opportunity. It is more than learning stuff from a classroom,” said Brandon.

Because of the coronavirus, this year’s drill was different than in years past. Not as many individuals participated, masks had to be worn throughout the event, and there was not as much physical interaction between individuals. Fred Bucher, the Assistant Vice President for Facilities Management and Safety and Coordinator, Title IX, shared information on this year’s disaster drill compared to the year’s prior. 

“This one might have been a little more scripted and a little less free play, but two years ago, it was phenomenal,” said Bucher.

Even though this year’s drill was different and more difficult to construct for students and the community, students enjoyed learning and understanding what a disaster can be like. The concept of learning and practicing within each field of work was present, students enjoyed the drill, and students left with a better knowledge of working through a real disaster. In this case, the 2021 disaster drill was a success.

Because of this drill, nursing, theater, and mass communications majors were a part of an experience that most students do not get the opportunity to participate in. With one of the largest nursing programs in the state, the disaster drill attracts many aspiring nursing students at Piedmont College. For this drill has become a major project for theater students, mass communications students, and nursing students to encounter a real-life scenario before entering the work field. 

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