Paramedics mark each victim with a colored tag showing the severity of the injury

Year-end high school project puts life and death in focus

Contributed By: The 411 News

Hammond Area Career Center simulates a Mass Casualty Incident

Bodies of students lined the 3rd floor corridor at the Hammond Area Career Center Friday morning. Paramedics attended to the wounded and marked the deceased with black tags. Shouts and instructions from law enforcement could be heard as they searched classrooms for the shooter.

The scene was chaotic but it was all make believe.

When it comes to end-of-year projects, Friday’s Mass Casualty Incident simulation by students in the CTE programs at the Hammond ACC put the real world in focus.

CTE, short for Career and Technical Education, is how Indiana and states across the nation encourages high school students to explore careers and give them options, that after graduation can take them to the world of work, college, a trade school, an apprenticeship or military service.

The Mass Casualty Incident (MCI) is an annual simulation hosted by the ACC's Healthcare Specialist - Emergency Medical Services instructor Ryan Cogdill and Criminal Justice instructors Tom Fulk and Audrey Randle.

“This training is not just for active shooter situations in school buildings,” Cogdill said. “The training these students receive can be applied to any of the mass casualty situations that happen in malls, office buildings, and stores.”

Criminal Justice students played the roles of law enforcement, tasked with securing the building and locating the shooter, while EMS students played the role of paramedics, attending to the wounded and deceased. They had to determine the severity of the injury, which of the wounded could be stabilized at the scene and which needed immediate transport to a hospital.

Students in the Cosmetology program also participated. The red paint they applied to the nearly 100 victims indicated injuries. And students in the radio/tv broadcast program recorded the simulation.

Fulk is positive about one impact of the CTE programs at the Hammond Area Career Center. “I know one thing students take away from these programs is they learn which careers they want to pursue after high school. If they enrolled in our criminal justice program and they didn’t like it, that’s not a bad thing.”

For Brianna Vale, the EMS program helped her decide what she wanted to do with her nursing career. Vale is in the nursing program at Purdue Northwest. Last year she was a student in the EMS program at the career center and participated in the simulation. She’s now a volunteer with the program.

“I knew I wanted to be in health care, but didn’t know where,” Vale said. “After getting in the class, I fell in love with it. I want to be an emergency room nurse.”

“I know it’s hard thinking that we are even simulating active shooter situations, but they are sadly becoming more common. From the perspective of EMS, it gets us prepared for real life. It gives us the skills to save lives and for what we might see in the future,” Vale said.

Through the EMS program, Vale earned certification as an EMT and works part-time with Superior Ambulance.

The Hammond ACC houses 13 career programs attended by students from ten high schools throughout the region.

Brianna Vale, l-r, Audrey Randle and Lake County Sheriff Detective Alfonzo Randle

Story Posted:05/13/2024

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