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Hundreds of University students enhance learning in simulated major incident

Hundreds of University of Gloucestershire students gained specialist skills and experience alongside members of the emergency services when they took part in a large-scale simulated incident response.

‘Operation Blizzard’ was designed by the university’s skills and simulation team to be as realistic as possible, with students performing a number of roles within a stressful environment.

Students from a range of programmes, including Paramedicine, Nursing, Operations Department Practice, Radiography, Social work, Professional Policing, Medicine, Photography, Film Production and Photojournalism, were able to build upon the knowledge they had gained from their respective courses and work alongside colleagues from the NHS and emergency services.

Benefiting from support and advice from trained professionals, the students were tasked with responding to the aftermath of a deliberate terrorist attack carried out in a vehicle during a winter food fair, followed by an attack with a bladed weapon.

The University’s Oxstalls Teaching Centre was temporarily turned into the Oxstalls University Hospital featuring an emergency department, resus bay, a minor injuries unit, X-ray and imaging facility, assessment ward and an operating theatre.

Many of the ‘victims’, played by students and volunteers, had suffered life-threatening injuries and were screaming in pain, while others were distressed because relatives were missing.

Lucy Vincent, a Paramedic Science student, said: “It felt very real, not like a simulation exercise at all, and I will definitely take some good experiences from this.

“We brought the patients from the scene in the ambulance to the hospital and gave a proper handover – it did feel very real. The screaming from patients does put you off sometimes, but in a real situation many people would be screaming.

“Taking part in this simulation has made me realise that I know more than I thought, so I need to have more faith in myself. It’s definitely made me feel a lot better.”

Katy Stevenson, who is studying Adult Nursing, said: “I found the simulation a really valuable experience. I had to take on more senior role than I’m used to and you certainly do feel the pressure co-ordinating teams trying to achieve the best possible outcome for the patient.”

Dan Mcshee, a Mental Health Nursing student, said: “It was really eye-opening to be in that sort of situation, the busyness of it and working with all the other professionals that we don’t normally get to do in practice. It was really well done.

“It was really beneficial, especially when you think of your own skills within your own profession and how that interfaces with other professionals in a crisis situation like this.”

Simon Kersey, Skills and Simulation Lead within the University’s School of Health and Social Care, said: “The simulation proved to be an engaging, collaborative event and really served to bring together a multi-professional group of students and colleagues.

“These simulations are an excellent way for students from multiple professions to practice their skills and learn together in a realistic environment under a certain amount of stress.

“They help to prepare them for the real-world challenges of modern health care and working within the emergency services.”