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Union students work with first responders in mock disaster

For the past few years, Jonathan Allen and the athletic training program at Union University has set up an exercise at the end of the spring semester to test the students on what they’ve learned.

But it’s typically outside the realm of their planned field of work.

So when there were a number of emergency vehicles in the parking lot at Union between Fred Delay Gymnasium and Fesmire Field, the exercise had begun to look like a scenario hopefully none of the trainers will have to deal with in their careers.

“We’re trying to create interprofessional learning collaboration opportunities for our athletic training students by linking them up with local emergency management, fire, police and other first responders,” Allen said. “And I appreciate Jackson Fire, Jackson Police, EMS and EMA for agreeing to be involved.”

It wasn’t just emergency personnel on the ground who was involved.

Union students who were unaware of the campus-wide text that went out moments before the exercise that were startled by all of the emergency vehicles in the parking lot might’ve gotten another startle when a pair of helicopters – one from Hospital Wing and the other from Air Evac landed in the grass near the clock tower on campus.

“Air Evac agreed to be a part of it, and one of the people with Hospital Wing is a graduate of the program and wanted to be involved too,” Allen said. “So we were able to talk with the students about if they ever have to put a patient on a helicopter, how that handoff looks like and what information they need to relay to those who will travel with the patient.”

The emergency for the test was a microburst storm had passed over Union’s campus and left a number of people injured in various degrees of stress.

“In a situation like this or with some of our mock disasters in the past, you’re typically going to have varying degrees of injury, and one of the most important things you’ve got to do is assess the situation and prioritize which cases are the most emergent and need help right away,” Allen said. “So this is a way for them to do that.”

Within about a half-hour, the students had assessed the injured and worked with the first responders in making sure everyone was treated appropriately.

“I’m appreciative of everyone who agreed to work with us, and they’ve been great about doing it,” Allen said. “And I’m proud to say that I’ve heard more than once over the years about how a couple of them were presently surprised by how well our students were working in the situation.”

Brandon Shields,

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