The burns, blood and gory injuries were fake but the adrenaline-filled response was real as ACU student nurses and paramedicine students treated scores of volunteer patients for gunshot wounds, burns, fractures, smoke inhalation and other injuries during the annual ACU Code Black disaster response exercise.
The students, and representatives from Victoria Police, Ambulance Victoria, the SES, CFA, St John Ambulance, Ballarat Health and the Department of Health and Human Services, responded to the major mock disaster at the ACU Aquinas campus.
While they knew a disaster was set to occur, they did not know what was about to unfold - a multi-modal vehicle-borne attack involving an active shooter and improvised explosive device.
ACU organiser Associate Professor Helen Webb said there were about 270 people involved including 79 volunteer patients involved in the three hour exercise.
"This is one of the biggest exercises of its kind in Australia and it played out really smoothly," Prof Webb said.
She said the disaster response exercise helped everyone involved understand the workings of a mass casualty scene, chains of command, control and rapidly-changing situations.
"This is a phenomenal experience which gives our students the opportunity to work alongside emergency services for real," Professor Webb said.
"We know with previous incidents in the world, the best outcomes in emergencies are when service personnel know each other."
ACU Ballarat Campus Dean, Professor Bridget Aitchison, said the wounds and scars "could probably win an Oscar for special effects makeup".
"This exercise is designed to be as realistic as possible to a mass casualty event," she said.
It's the fourth year the exercise has run and each year it gets bigger with more involvement from other organisations who also use it to train their members.
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