SOUTH FORT MYERS, Fla. Screams rang through the air as bodies were strewn about the lawn Thursday at Florida SouthWestern State College.
But it was all for show.
Students took part in a simulated a bomb blast designed to train future emergency medical responders, crime scene investigators and journalists to face disaster.
“What I’m looking for them to understand is that they’re going to be put in a variety of situations that are overwhelming,” FSW Emergency Service Programs Director Joe Washburn said.
The drill appeared realistic, complete with smoke, crime scene tape and makeup that helped student actors appear to be injured.
“You know, you never know what’s going to happen, especially when shootings come out of nowhere,” said Steph Cardoso, who was outfitted with a phony but nonetheless gruesome eye injury.
Ed Neil, a former National Disaster Medical System team member who’s responded to real catastrophes, observed Thursday’s exercise and was impressed with its realism.
“At first it’s overwhelming, but then you just think to yourself, ‘Now I’ve got to do what I’m trained to do,'” Neil said.
Skills that many of the students practiced Thursday could put them in position to take advantage of a favorable job market for emergency personnel.
“With the return of the housing market, and with more and more departments able to hire, the employment opportunities in this area have grown,” Washburn said.