Pain and worry flood the face of one victim while a paramedic tends to another suffering from possible smoke inhalation during the Exercise Merlin emergency training drill at Fanshawe College on Wednesday (May 23).

There were all the trappings of a major disaster at Fanshawe College on Wednesday (May 24).

A fire and secondary explosion in a student dorm with multiple casualties would normally have brought emergency services speeding to the scene from across the city. But this time instead, it was students from the school’s various programs including Police Foundations, Emergency Management and Advanced Paramedic that answered the call, testing their knowledge and skills as part of Exercise Merlin.

Emergency Management Office supervisor Steve Clemens said event was designed to “give a real life emergency example to students.”

Approximately 260 people were involved in the exercise, bringing together representatives from over 10 college faculties and members of the London Police Service, London Fire Department and Middlesex London EMS.

In the scenario, responders were faced with close to 100 people needing to be triaged including 35 injured patients suffering a multitude of injuries that ranged from burns, to lacerations and broken bones. In addition, they had to deal with the physical challenges that could be encountered in a real emergency including the shrill of alarms, smoke-filled rooms and damaged hallways while working alongside other emergency service personnel.

Clemens noted that this exercise is something that has been built into the curriculum over the last two years that provides students with some practical learning. He said it also enables the college itself to practice parts of its own emergency preparedness with things like the Shelter in Place severe weather drill which was also held Wednesday morning.

Doug Steary is the Program Coordinator for the Advanced Care Paramedic program at Fanshawe and said the practice students get and lessons learned here today, are ones they can apply to real life situations they will find themselves in on the job.

He said that creating as realistic a scene as possible is a key component in a training exercise like this.

“If the student walks in and we tell them there is a lot of blood or vomit on the floor, it is difficult for them to really appreciate that,” Steary remarked. “ But if they walk in and they are actually tripping on that blood and slipping in that vomit, that’s a different situation entirely.”

via London Community News

Photos by Mike Maloney/London Community News/Twitter:@mdmaloneyphoto