Author Archives: Alana Day

About Alana Day

I'm an eighteen-year-old freshman at Piedmont College. My current major is Mass Communications because I love the way it ties in with so many topics. I'm from Georgia and have lived here my whole life.

Disaster (Drill) Strikes Piedmont College

A lethal disaster struck at the Piedmont College Swanson Center on March 24 — but it was only a drill. 

“The scenario for this [drill] was: we had some swirling clouds, but there had not been an actual tornado warning in effect,” said Fred Bucher, the assistant vice president for facilities management and safety. “We hope that doesn’t happen; we hope we get a warning, but we’re playing this as if we had no warning.”

A disaster simulation of a category three tornado hit the Swanson Center, sending over 400 participating students and volunteers into an experience like no other. According to the Piedmont College website, the drill included about 80 junior nursing students to play the role of victims and 80 senior nursing majors to serve as responders. Along with them, theatre students provided realistic makeup and pyrotechnics, and communications students simulated a press conference afterward.

“We have law enforcement and EMS personnel from the city of Demorest,” said Bucher. “We have the county EMS, and I think we have representatives from the North Georgia Medical Center as well, which is really super because we’ve never had that before, and we really want them to get involved.”

The drill coordinators and participants truly strived for authenticity, bringing in multiple first responders, victims, and nurses who stayed in character throughout the drill. Police on the scene even pretended to arrest one student for looting from the victims. The drill participants seemingly thought of everything, from a little girl yelling for her mom to a man looking for his dog. The simulation created a necessary and authentic first-hand experience for the nursing students on the scene.

“There’s nothing better,” said Bucher about the nursing students’ experience. “When I first got here, and we did this, we just steadily improved it over time, and Karen Greilich, who’s the emergency nurse, and she’s got lots of trauma experience, she has just made this thing better and better.”

Due to COVID-19, the disaster drill had to be canceled last year, but this year, the exercise could happen under certain restrictions. Now with the pandemic slowing down, the annual disaster drill will be expected to be enacted once again next year.

“Two years ago, it was phenomenal, and [Greilich]’s already got the plan for next year, and it’s going to be great,” said Bucher. “The next one’s going to be great.”

Dr. Friedline Took His Time

Dr. John Michael Friedline ran the long route to teaching psychology.

“It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to do in school,” said Friedline, assistant professor of psychology for Piedmont College. “So I started off as a biology major … but probably about my third year, I decided to be a psychology major.”

In those indecisive three years, Friedline changed his mind about his major from biology to philosophy until he eventually reached psychology, the subject that he currently teaches. It took a few tries, but through the experience of different classes, he found his passion and the subject he wanted to study.

“I didn’t really know what I wanted to do in psychology, but then I took one class — a second-year class on brain and behavior that I really liked, and I took some primatology classes I really liked. I really liked the biological side of psychology,” he said. “I hadn’t really left biology; I just found another route to it.”

His alternate route to biology took Friedline on a detour through alcohol and drug counseling, a profession he took pride in for many years before he became a professor. However, his goal was always to teach, and after 25 years working in the position, Friedline set his sights on passing along his knowledge to students. Despite having a different long-term goal, Friedline enjoyed his time working in addiction counseling.

“I enjoyed doing it,” he said. “It’s stressful, ‘cause you’re working with people who are in crisis all the time, but it’s rewarding because you can walk them through the crisis, and they get better.”

Though his original plans were to “teach and do research with rats, not people,” Friedline enjoyed his position in counseling. Now overseeing a new major and teaching psychology courses at Piedmont College, it seems as though Friedline is finally where he wants to be in his career.

“It took me a long time between my Ph.D. and coming here — and teaching,” Friedline said. “I’ve been working as an alcohol and drug counselor for about 25 years, but this is what I’ve always wanted to do, was teach.”