DEMOREST, GA – The 2021 disaster drill was staged at the Piedmont College Swanson Center, which brought together theater, mass communication, and nursing majors. This annual event simulates a real catastrophe, complete with difficulties, victims, all the confusion that comes with it.
“We want to make it a very realistic event so that it will be beneficial for all of the agencies involved,” associate professor Karen Greilich said. “Each year, our campus community and area emergency response personnel come together to create this incredible real-world learning experience for our students.”
Artificial smoke and fire consumed the Swanson Center while the victims of the “tornado” laid inside and outside the building. The victims were theatre major students dressed up with fake injuries and wounds, treated by the nursing trainees. For senior nursing students at Piedmont College, the drill was a fantastic opportunity to get some experience assessing injuries and caring for victims before entering the field.
“It gives nursing students the opportunity to prepare for anything,” says Junior nursing major Caitlyn Worthy.
Emergency fields such as the fire department and police force attended the event and shared their wisdom and experience with the aspiring nurses. Meanwhile, as the chaos is unfolding, mass communication students gather interviews and reports of the simulated catastrophe.
“It definitely did affect last year seniors,” says Samantha Barnes, senior nursing student, when discussing how COVID-19 canceled last year’s drill. “Especially in the trauma area, they didn’t get the practice they needed to without this experience.”
The spread of COVID-19 hindered the possibility of having the drill in 2020, and seniors missed the vital practice. COVID-19 also affected this year’s maneuvers from being played out to the full experience.
The 2021 disaster drill brought chaos to senior nursing students, acting practice for the theatre department, and practice covering media for mass communication scholars.