WORCESTER (CBS) — First responders in Worcester and surrounding communities gathered at the DCU Center for a simulated disaster drill Tuesday that continued on to several area hospitals.
About 200 EMTs-in-training and other volunteers, including a local band, staged an active shooter situation in which about half suffered a full-range of injuries.
The drill began around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday at the convention center, and ended around 5 p.m.
Coordinator Dr. John Broach, an emergency room physician at UMass Medical Center and Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine and Director of Disaster Medicine & Emergency Management at UMass Medical School, said the idea was to expose first responders to a scenario that’s being seen all too often around the world.
“The most important thing that we’re evaluating is the ability of the different first response services and the hospitals in the whole community to work successfully together,” said Dr. Broach.
Dr. Broach started planning this drill, known as Operation Central Shield, ten months ago.
“We, like all communities, are vulnerable to this threat, and we think it’s an important one to prepare for, because the medical response is so involved,” he said. “These patients are very sick, and as we’ve seen in recent events, they require lots of medical resources to be cared for appropriately.”
Christopher, who is preparing for a career as an EMT, welcomed the chance to play the role of a victim.
“You get to see how it would happen from the other side, what they would see,” he said. “The big thing I’ve noticed is that when they call for the walking wounded, I can’t hear them say, ‘get up, come toward me,’ so that’s something that I can take back to my department and say, ‘hey, we really gotta project this, we really gotta make instructions very clear.'”
The “victims” of the simulated attack were all transported to local hospitals within an hour, where the drill continued, testing the in-hospital response.
Dr. Broach said the organizers had “shadow teams” of nurses, physicians, and doctors to respond to the simulated casualties–“without compromising the safety of actual patients.”
“We’ve been very clear ahead of time about the fact that this will not disrupt patient care in any way,” Dr. Broach said. “They may see the simulated victims, but we’re not going to displace any patients, we’re not going to delay any patient cares.”
Sage, who is training at Quinsigamond Community College, called the experience very valuable.
“Absolutely, this is about the only training that we’ll get for mass casualties,” she said.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones reports