Vancouver Community College takes earthquake drill to next level

Original article by Rafferty Baker / CBC News

The alarm sounds and Vancouver Community College's Broadway campus empties. Students and staff gather in a field across the road. Once they're given the "all clear" signal, they go back to their classrooms. It's the annual ShakeOut B.C. earthquake drill. But for the health care students, the real drill has just begun.

Volunteers given realistic makeup wounds are strewn about the building's third and fourth floors. The actors do their best impressions of suffering earthquake victims and groups of nursing, dental hygiene and health-unit coordinator students are led from victim to victim.

"Some of it is very realistic," said VCC Health Sciences dean Debbie Sargent.

"We have casualties who have fractures, who have had seizures, who are pregnant and are experiencing cramping, people who have heart disease and have heart, chest pain.

All kinds of disorders and casualties are being found by groups of students as they rotate between the two floors."

Trami Pham is a student in VCC's health unit coordinator program. Her forehead was adorned with a big gash and her shirt looked blood-stained.

"I've got a head laceration," she explained, adding that she didn't feel her performance was especially convincing.

"I'm terrible. I'm pretending to be unconscious."

"I feel like it puts the [bachelor of science in nursing] students in a real life situation, rather than having, like, having to read off paper and imagine it," said Pham. "This way they actually get to experience it."

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