A simulated terrorist attack at University of Limerick created a stir on campus as emergency personnel in hazmat suits, fire service, ambulance helicopter rescue crews responded in a highly realistic training exercise.
The 'victims' of the attack were loaded onto the rescue helicopter as a major operation by paramedic students swung into action. The trainee paramedics, joined by nursing and medical students, took part in the large outdoor exercise involving the emergency services.
The “terrorist” was removed from the car by fire service personnel wearing chemical suits, with the issue of contaminants built into the exercise.
Frank Keane, Senior Clinical Teaching Fellow on the BSc in Paramedic Studies, explained that the outdoor exercise featured a “terrorist scenario”.
“We have a specific way of teaching that involves the concept of problem-based learning,” he explained of the course, which was the first undergraduate paramedic programme in the country when it was launched in 2016.
“We wanted something that would be of value to the students and one of the areas they have to be conversant with is a paramedic response to a major incident. This is a terrorist scenario, where someone has driven a car at speed into a crowd of people before crashing it. There was a contaminant in the car and we are mimicking the actual response to this situation.”
A total of 29 students on the BSc in Paramedic Studies responded to the simulated major terrorist event of a car crashing into a group of people.
“The students had five patients in really bad shape and had to prioritise one of them to go on the helicopter, so that requires a judgment call. “It is about preparing students to face this kind of situation in real life,” said Mr Keane.
There were upwards of 20 patients with a field hospital erected.
“There is triage being done on the patients to determine who needs treatment. We have the fire brigade and the helicopter is arriving – it is good practice for a real incident, we are dealing with patients in a realistic setting. It gives us that real-world experience, you can only learn so much in a classroom, whereas doing something like this will really teach us a lot,” first-year paramedic student Ella Daly, 20, from Tramore, explained.
A staged press conference featuring UL Journalism students also took place after the event.