University of Ulster Nursing students and Red Cross volunteers took part in a full scale disaster response training exercise in Derry/Londonderry yesterday.
Over 60 students played the roles of casualties and survivors at the scene of the simulated plane crash in Gransha Park.
In addition to caring for survivors of the atrocity, volunteers had to deal with debris and fire causing havoc in the local community.
The simulation event provided the ideal training opportunity for nurses and Red Cross volunteer teams to practice their casualty location, triage, first aid and emotional support skills.
Central to the exercise was an emergency field hospital, where senior nursing students set up and ran a Triage and primary assessment area, a ten-bed emergency ward and a family /survivor centre alongside Red Cross volunteers.
Pat Deeny, Senior Lecturer in Nursing at Magee and Exercise Co-Ordinator, said: “A common feature of any disaster is the ‘mass casualty event’ where hospitals and health services experience an increased surge of people seeking help and first aid.
“Nurses alongside Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers play a key role in such events, providing expertise in mass casualty management and immediate treatment of serious injuries such as burns, fractures, gunshot wounds and support for families and survivors through psychological first aid.
“This simulated disaster provides our students with an excellent opportunity to gain new insights into mass casualty management and helps them to cope with chaotic situations in healthcare; something that will stand them in good stead for their future career.
“ It is an excellent way to learn about what it is like to be a victim or survivor of a disaster and how best to provide effective care and support for affected communities.”
Joanne McKenna, Emergency Response Manager for the Red Cross, paid tribute to the volunteers. She said: “Emergency response is all about being prepared and it’s vital that our volunteers get the opportunity to test their skills and put their training into practice in as realistic an environment as possible.”