EKU Students Put Skills to Practice Through Emergency Simulation Event

Published on April 30, 2024

By Evan Bentley

Students from healthcare and first-responder fields scattered behind yellow caution tape, while bystanders watched the events unfold. First-responder vehicles with loud and bright sirens quickly rolled into the center of campus as the chilly rain began. 

This was the scene at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) on Tuesday, April 9, at Powell Plaza. While it may have appeared to be a worst-case scenario to one unaware of the planned simulation, it was the best thing the school and its students could do to prepare for the worst.

The event in Powell Plaza was a simulation of a small-scale Mass Casualty Incident (MCI). The goal was to allow students from multiple programs to practice their skills in a real-life scenario, while also raising awareness to the campus community about basic operations and safety protocols. Student actors participated in the simulation, while others got a chance to see their fellow students in action as first responders. 

“It was amazing to see our students work together in this way. Not only did they organize the event, but they also orchestrated a smooth response to a chaotic scene, bringing together many different academic disciplines,” said EKU President David McFaddin. “This was a perfect way for students to prepare for the situations they may face in their future careers and showcase the impact of their skills, knowledge and training.”

Event organizer and emergency medical care major, Kyra Mills, said about 80 students participated in the event, ranging from critical care paramedics to EMT students to members of SGA and the theater program.

The simulation event still took place despite rain. “The rain absolutely made the scenario realistic,” said Mills. “We would still work to treat any patient in the rain during a real-world emergency, why not practice if possible?”

The scenario began at 1 p.m. The simulated situation was that a natural gas leak progressed into an explosion causing multiple burns to local citizens and workers.

As part of the simulation, students acted as patients and appeared to be experiencing multiple physical and mental injuries. They shouted out asking for help as they laid in Powell Plaza. Student participants came rushing to the scene, placing the student actors onto gurneys. The simulation highlighted the real-time decision making involved for first responders, healthcare professionals and all those involved in an emergency.

“It’s cool to see how everyone reacted and got into character—nobody was not in character, and it was cool to see how fast everyone was responding, too,” said Helen Brennen, an EKU elementary education major, who stopped by to watch the simulation.

The joint training simulation was hosted by Epsilon Sigma Pi, an emergency medical care student organization, in conjunction with the College of Justice, Safety & Military Science, the School of Nursing, Occupational Sciences and several student organizations.