Mass Casualty Incident Drill

By Eliza Joy

On October 16, BYU EMTs, nursing students, the Department of Risk Management, and campus police participated in the MCI drill, or mass casualty incident drill. This drill helps emergency response teams around campus practice valuable skills, and teaches nursing students how to operate in emergency situations.

Starting around 11 AM, makeup artists stationed in the HFAC worked to put prosthetic makeup on approximately 150 actors. Each makeup artist worked on anywhere from 12-15 actors. This work was extremely detailed, from creating the appearance of burns and lacerations to giving the actors capsules of fake blood to put in their mouths. 

While actors were getting ready for the MCI through makeup, nursing students were preparing in a different way. Volunteer EMTs taught nurses some important emergency skills such as triage, patient care with limited resources, and how to quickly movie patients in critical conditions. Among classes, nursing students also attended a lecture where they learned how to use stress to their advantage. Dr. Matt Anderson, a faculty member of the BYU College of Nursing, prepared students for the MCI by helping them understand the importance of emotional awareness in healthcare. He said, “You can’t be so empathetic that you break down and can’t do your job, but you also can’t be so jaded that you can’t see human suffering.”

After these preparations, the drill began. At 4:37 PM, EMTs were dispatched to the Lavell Edward’s Stadium. The scenario for the drill was a mishap where a firework shot not into the air, but into the crowd. The actors played their parts well, acting according to the severity of their wounds. When EMTs arrived, they began to triage the patients. As more help arrived, those in more critical conditions were moved first to where nurses were prepared to give medical assistance.

After the initial drill, EMTs and nursing students were given feedback—along with a meal—before completing the drill a second time. One EMT commented that much of the feedback revolved around the stadium itself and how to reduce the distance patients had to be transported. Transporting takes both supplies and time. Making this aspect run smoother significantly improved the result of the drill, allowing participants to work more efficiently.

Afterward, we asked some of the participants about their experiences. “It was very overwhelming,” said EMT Ryan. “But chaos breeds creativity, and today’s events proved that the BYU EMS folks and the good teams from the College of Nursing are capable of creating innovation and figuring it out.” Student nurse Olivia commented, “It felt pretty real so it was beneficial to my learning.” 

We want to thank all participants, including the nurses, EMTs, actors, makeup artists, and pizza delivery guys, for making this educational experience possible.

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