John Carroll University Emergency Medical Services (JCU EMS) conducted a mass casualty drill along with the University Heights Fire Department in the O’Malley Center on Sunday, Oct. 25.
JCU EMS is a student-run organization that responds to campus emergencies. It was created in 2002 in response to the death of a John Carroll student. Members of JCU EMS are certified Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs).
This year, the theme of the mass casualty drill was a gas explosion. JCU EMS asked John Carroll students and staff to act as victims for the drill. The 26 people who volunteered as victims were given fake injuries.
Sophomore Sam Sambois helped create the fake injuries, using makeup, fake blood and plastic limbs. Some of the injuries were burns, pieces of shrapnel impaling victims, impaired hearing, anxiety and detached limbs.
To begin the simulation, the John Carroll Police Department “activated the EMS” by calling them.
JCU EMS used a system called a phone tree, in which one EMS member called another until all members were notified of the mass casualty. The chief of JCU EMS, Spencer Furin, called the Deputy Chief, senior Josh Krach.
Once all of JCU EMS were notified, the simulation began. The furniture in O’Malley Center was rearranged to fit the scene of a gas explosion. Tables and chairs were overturned. Students’ backpacks and jackets were thrown around the floor. The victims were screaming and crying throughout the simulation.
JCU EMS used Simple Triage And Rapid Treatment (START) to assess their patients, which is a classification method to group victims based on the severity of their injury. Victims were given a tag in one of four colors to distinguish their injury level.
A victim with a black tag was deceased. A red tag signaled a patient that needed immediate medical attention. A yellow tag meant delayed medical care. A green tag was used for victims with minor injuries, also called the walking wounded.
Once everyone was triaged, JCU EMS began treating the victims. JCU EMS was able to stabilize all 26 victims and transported them on stretchers out of O’Malley Center within 50 minutes.
Junior Spencer Furin, Chief of JCU EMS, thought that the drill went well overall, and claimed JCU EMS had strengths and weaknesses.
Furin said, “One of our strengths was our ability to work with limited resources and to improvise solutions to problems that arose during the drill. For example, when faced with a patient with uncontrolled bleeding and no supplies immediately available, one of our responders used his uniform shirt as a tourniquet, an action that could save the patient’s life in a real incident,” stated Furin.
Krach said, “I do think the drill went smoothly overall. The beginning was a little chaotic, but that mimics reality as people would be coming in at different times and everyone is trying to size up the situation,” Krach continued, “After role assignments were given and people started to work with the patients, things became much more ordered.”
Several University Heights paramedics observed JCU EMS and gave suggestions. They believe that the mass casualty drill was successful, and JCU EMS performed similarly to professional paramedics.
Paramedic firefighter Randy Witczak claimed, “It was a little slow getting started; people weren’t sure exactly what they were doing, but once they got their assignments and realized what they were supposed to do, it went very well.”