An unknown explosion occurred leading to mass casualties, dozens of serious injuries and a potentially unstable environment.
This was the scenario final year ACU bachelor of nursing and paramedicine students faced on Thursday.
Associate Professor in paramedicine Helen Webb said 35 students treated 42 patients, six who were deceased and 10 with priority one injuries.
“The scenario was an explosion with an unknown cause. It could be terrorist or a gas leak,” Dr Webb said.
When terrorists attacks are suspected the entire response changes, Dr Webb said.
“Emergency services can be targeted by terrorists,” Dr Webb said.“We also don’t want what happened in 9/11 – which was where all the emergency services went in (and many died).”
Students started by triaging patients based on by the severity of their injuries. Some patients had head injuries, amputations and spinal injuries.
Student Eamon Glass said the exercise gave students the opportunity to consolidate the skills they had learnt throughout their degrees.
“Today we had a mass casualty exercise. We had a simulated explosion on campus and we had (more than) 30 patients we had to triage and treat,” Mr Glass said.
“There were limbs that had gone left, right and centre.
“Victims had lacerations and burns and enclosed head injuries. There was lots for us to manage.”
Student Kristie Berchtenbreiter , who was tasked as communications manager, found this particularly challenging.
“I had a really big role, I was the commander of the whole scene,” Ms Berchtenbreiter said.
“It was really challenging for me using radios, even just communicating with a lot of people asking questions.”
Mr Glass said the task, while challenging, was reassuring for students who were about embark on their new careers.
“In a way it was really reassuring – you spend your whole time being student. When you get to see good patient results you get to grow that confidence in yourself.”
Associate Professor Webb said mass casualty training scenarios were increasingly important given the increasing occurrence of terrorism.