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Algonquin College students tackle mock disaster

By Sarah Hyatt, The Daily Observer

Second year practical nursing student Yanwen Zhao tends to Robert Ferguson, a police foundations student and victim during a mock critical incident training exercise at Algonquin College's Waterfront Campus on March 20.

Second year practical nursing student Yanwen Zhao tends to Robert Ferguson, a police foundations student and victim during a mock critical incident training exercise at Algonquin College's Waterfront Campus on March 20.

Radiological hazards, a hit-and-run, injuries, death, shock and grief were just a few of the issues students at Algonquin College’s Waterfront Campus tackled during Friday’s mock critical incident training exercise.

And while only an exercise, it was as if it was real for students and that’s the point, Dan Labelle, co-ordinator of the college’s police foundations program and the scenario team lead says.

“It’s a practical exercise that allows students to test and use the skills they’ve learned the last two years here,” he said. “This is a chance for students to learn together and not just with those in their professions.”

Graduating students in the social service worker, practical nursing, police foundations and radiation safety programs were also experiencing working with each other and how their jobs can and often intertwine, Labelle explained.

Pending on how the scenario continually evolved, police may have taken the lead charge, then the radiation safety students – so it was a great opportunity for students to learn how to work with others while responding to an emergency-type situation, the co-ordinator continued.

The scenario was, a vehicle transporting a used teletherapy unit was stolen. The belief was the perpetrators stole the vehicle with the intent of utilizing the contents for a radiological dispersive device (RDD). (An RDD combines a conventional explosive device typically such as a bomb with radioactive materials).

As the situation unfolded, the perpetrators removed the contents of the teletherapy unit from its shielding – increasing the radiological hazard and tried to evade police.

They fled to Algonquin College with the stolen vehicle and contents and tried to use the compound to hide. Upon entering the compound, three people were hit and injured. Police shot the driver, who died.

Police students practised securing the scene and investigations. Radiation safety students were dispatched for containment and the contamination processes. Nursing and social service worker students, with a mock hospital upstairs at the college had to treat both the victims of the accident and those involved in the crime, who were injured.

Nursing students provided physical care for those in need, while social worker students tried to provide victim support in the wake of death and trauma.

The hope was with student actors actually in neck braces, people in hospital beds and with the scenario as real-life as possible, students could gain a bit of perspective and more hands-on experience.

Sarah Hyatt is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist

 


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