Disaster Drill Gets Help
From KCS StudentsPosted by Josh Flory on 12/5/2018
Students from across Knox County took part in a disastrous event last month -- and all for a good cause.
The Knox County Health Department teamed up with local hospitals for its annual “Full Scale Disaster Exercise,” a role-playing drill that aims to prepare medical providers for a variety of potential health emergencies.
This year’s drill focused on the possibility of an infection outbreak, and some KCS students played the role of victims.
At Parkwest Medical Center, students from Bearden High School arrived on a bus and took turns going into the emergency room, where Parkwest physicians and staffers processed them for care.
Maddie Brillhart, a BHS freshman, played the role of “Jane Hellman”, a young woman who was suffering from symptoms including a fever, stomach pains and vomiting.
Brillhart, who is hoping to pursue a career as a sports medicine physician, said that playing the role was awkward at first, but “Once you start doing it, it gets easier … and you kind of get into the mindset of your character.”
Dr. John Adams, a physician and chairman of the infection prevention committee at Parkwest, said the purpose of the disaster exercise is to provide active training in handling a major emergency.
Adams said it’s possible to do a training exercise while sitting around a table or using scenario cards, but it makes a difference to have actual people participating as “victims.”
While some past drills envisioned scenarios where numerous people are injured, this year’s scenario involved a bus full of students coming in with varying stages of infection. At Parkwest, the emergency department was mostly full during the drill, with students taking turns shuffling into treatment rooms, while others lay on cots and pretended to be unconscious.
“If this were a real emergency you really would have 22 people coming in on a bus,” Adams said. “It’s a real-world test that’s as close to the real thing as you can possibly get without actually having people sick.”
For students, the drill provided an up-close look at how the medical system works, and possibly inspiration for a future career.
Adams traced his interest in medicine to an 8th-grade science project in which he studied whether room activity increases bacterial counts in the air. With help from the clinical lab in town, Adams learned how to grow bacteria, build an incubator and do lab staining -- and won first place with the project.
“I’ve been doing this for the past 30 years, and it’s a blast,” he said. “So getting an early passion -- it’s a good thing.”
Marissa Anderson, a sophomore at Bearden, also played an infection victim during the drill, and said she’s always been interested in health care.
As for the drill, she said, “I liked it because I got to see what it’s like inside a hospital.”