HomeNewsConfidence in chaos: Simulated emergency situation gives TJC students the opportunity to...

Confidence in chaos: Simulated emergency situation gives TJC students the opportunity to grow practical skills

Two cars stand at a halt. Both show damage indicating a crash, but while one car’s bumper falls off, the other vehicle starts to catch fire. Passengers call out, checking on their friends to make sure they’re OK as the sirens get closer and closer. Fire, police and EMTs rush onto the scene, and take control of the situation according to their training. This was the scene that unfolded at Mike Carter Field April 4 during a mock emergency situation hosted by TJC.

The event was a multi-department effort with students from the Fire Academy, Law Enforcement Academy, EMT Program, Theatre and Mass Communication Department coming together to practice their relevant skills during a simulated emergency.

“We simulated a drunk driver head on collision with another vehicle, and it caught on fire,” Christopher Franklin, a Fire Academy student, said. “Police were able to, in a safely manner, talk to the drunk driver and other passengers in the [second] vehicle, and we had other departments like the actors play it out, the different positions, and we had EMS take a few other victims out of the second car and take care of them.”

EMT students simulate giving life-saving care to victims played by theater students. The mock emergency allowed for each department involved to grow skills and practice procedure during a real emergency. Photo by Santiago Nunez.

The students were told to treat this like a real emergency, with EMT students providing life-saving care to theatre students who were standing in as victims. Fire Academy students put out a real car fire. Mass communication students covered the breaking news situation and attended a press conference held by TJC’s Director of Public Affairs, Whitney Mayfield.

“It was actually our first sort of training with all other departments like police, EMS, even the news, so I guess it was, being our first time, it was a nice lesson to learn to see what it might kinda be like in the real world,” Franklin said.

The organizer of this event was Adam Palacios, the director of business and industry partnerships at TJC West Campus. Palacios said the idea came from when he was a mass communication student.

“I actually was in TIPA myself, Texas Intercollegiate Press Association, and I know we had participated in an event every year just like this and so I really wanted to incorporate that aspect of it with TJC,” Palacios said.

According to Palacios, the idea was to help students feel more prepared and to learn how to be effective in an emergency, whatever their role may be.

“In our pursuit of excellence, as Dr. Mejia always says, we wanted to make sure that we are providing our students with relevant skills needed to be successful out in society,” Palacios said. “So we thought, we need to provide real-life scenarios to where all of them can come together and they can collaborate but they can also make sure that they understand the chain of command, they understand who they are supposed to report to, what that response looks like and so we decided a mock emergency would be the most encompassing event for us to do to make sure we can get as many departments involved as possible.”

The event was almost completely run by the students of each department. The instructors present were able to give information, directions and aid when requested, but mostly stood back and allowed their students to work through the problems by themselves. For Fire Academy student Philip Adkinson, this helped him feel more confident in his training.

“I liked it because we’ve never really practiced getting off [the truck] and as a team doing stuff. Usually, we kinda go over stuff once,” Adkinson said. “I’m real big on repetition because it gets me comfortable with the situation. So that helped me a lot cause it makes me more confident to go out there and know what to do and how to do it cause I’ve seen it and I’ve done it.”

Franklin echoed his peer, saying he feels more comfortable in his skills after the event and hopes to do more in the future.

“[I] absolutely feel more prepared and would love to do even more stuff too,” Franklin said. “Practice makes perfect.”

Overall, the event was marked as a success by the students and instructors alike, with Palacios commenting on the work each department did to make the whole thing work.

“I thought it was amazing. Our drama students did an amazing job. It was very realistic and at some points I even got, you know, kinda scared and I was like ‘OK this is this is real life,'” Palacios said. “I love the cohesiveness but then also acknowledging that there is fluidity in all kind of response scenes, and our students kinda have to understand that.”

While the event was carefully planned by each department to ensure the safety of those involved, adding all the departments together at once still made for a bit of chaos. Chaos that, Palacios added, simulates real emergency situations very well.

“What I was very happy to see was that when push came to shove, everybody started working together. You saw our fire personnel working with our EMTs as they were trying to perform life saving measures for some of the victims,” Palacios said. “You saw our police there responding walking on the scene helping our personnel as well. And that’s how I think any kind of emergency response should be; everyone should work together and try to save as many victims as possible.”

Both students and instructors are excited to continue doing mock events, and hopefully add more departments to get as many students involved as possible.

“I think everything went great,” Palacios said. “The only thing I hope is that we continue this program or this scenario, and that we also continue to grow on it and try to involve more departments down the road and continue to ensure were offering development skills to all of our students to be successful.”

Most Popular