HOSA members help simulate a mass casualty disaster

HOSA members are given the chance to see what a mass casualty event is like in a real-life situation.

Photo by Kayley Boan
Skyla Whitaker, junior, lies on gurney with fake injuries. She was the only one with high enough condition to require a bed.

Kayley Boan, Literary Magazine Editor

On Feb. 16, 30 injured HOSA flooded Piedmont Newton’s emergency room in a mass casualty simulation and the staff was prepared for the chaos.

Around 600 HOSA members faked injuries and pain at 28 hospitals over Georgia in a state-wide simulation.

At 9:00 A.M., a hypothetical bomb went off in the basement of the Braves’ stadium where 41,000 people attended to watch the game in the new field. Outside, shooters were stationed and gunned down evacuees. This made-up event set the stage for the 30 students that made their way into each hospital in waves, much like a real-world disaster would ensue.

As the “patients” made their way into the building, nurses and medical personnel triaged (assign degrees of medical urgency) them by green, yellow, and red.

The greens were observed and sent to outpatient while the yellows were held in the emergency area and tested further with CT scans and MRI’s.

During their admission, four patients had increased to a higher level of care. One of those being Kaylee Blount, GA HOSA President-Elect, who decided to pass out on a whim.

“I passed out because they set us all in a room together and no one was really watching, so I just wanted to see what would happen…if someone changed in their condition,” Blount said.

While in a room with 5 other “patients”, Blount fell out of her chair and laid out on the floor.

“One of the nurses immediately ran over to me and held my hand and asked if I was okay…They were really nice and everyone was really caring for the patients,” Blount said.

While the HOSA members had fun being treated and missing school, they gained a lot of experience just by being in the emergency room.

“As future healthcare providers, I think it’s really important for students to see what is required of a hospital in the event of an emergency…Will this prepare them fully? No, but it will give them the seriousness and the chaotic nature that a catastrophic event can cause and help better prepare them for when they are physically working somewhere,” Andrea Lane, manager of volunteers and Piedmont Newton, said.

In addition to the nurses and doctors at the hospital, police officers, board directors, EMT’s and many community partners were involved in executing the event.

At the end of the simulation, all participants were gathered in a room to discuss how it went and which areas need improvement.

“We do these so we can find our faults; that’s the whole issue. We need to find them cause in a real event we don’t want to find those faults, you want to find them beforehand… and correct them,” Duke McNary, Engineering and Security Manager, said

Though there were some technical issues at first, the hospital responded well to the situation. With a great influx of people in short waves, the staff adapted well to the conditions they were given and adjusted their process to better increase the flow.

Once they found what worked best, they executed their orders and took care of their patients, albeit the fake wounds.

“Overall the exercise was a complete success. I am very happy with what went on here, we got to use a brand new tool with our patient tracking system in Georgia as well as our mass casualty search tool kit that was developed by Region’s D&N. We got to test both of those operations really for the first time and I think overall it went very well,” Curt Harris, associate director for Center for Disaster Management at the University of GA, said.

Photo by Kayley Boan
Ashlyn Newman, junior, is directed to the waiting room after exiting the “ambulance”. Once in the room, she was triaged for the second time and seated in a room.
Photo by Kayley Boan
Kaylee Blount, junior, poses with triage tag. The volunteers were given their symptoms and it determined what medical attention they received.
Photo by Kayley Boan
Megan Petty, junior, pretends to vomit blood in the waiting room. When she realized no action was happening, she took matters into her own hands.
Photo by Kayley Boan
A nurse helps Kaylee Blount, junior, up after faking passing out. Blount wanted to see how the nurses would react to a patient who changed condition.
Photo by Kayley Boan
Staff member scans triage tag of HOSA volunteer. This new system was introduced to make getting patients immediate care much quicker.
Photo by Kayley Boan
Ashlyn Newman, junior, gives a statement to nurse on her condition. She complained of feeling very dizzy and light-headed.
Photo by Kayley Boan
Hailey Brannan, senior, is triaged by a nurse upon arrival. She was moved to a yellow and sent to wait for further treatment.
Photo by Kayley Boan
Madeline Hall, junior, rests while awaiting treatment. Though she cracked a smile, she held her character throughout the simulation.
Photo by Kayley Boan
HOSA members are rushed into the emergency room by an EMT. Volunteers were triaged at the door and again once they got into their rooms.
Photo by Kayley Boan
Skyla Whitaker, junior, lies on a gurney with fake injuries. She was the only one with high enough conditions to require a bed.