Hospital drill serves as lesson in emergency preparedness

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Criminal justice students participate in evacuation drill

SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – There’s nothing that drives home a classroom lesson quite like hands-on learning.

That’s what some college students got Thursday at a local medical facility but it wasn’t to experience what it’s like to treat patients. As Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller explains, it was all about emergency preparedness.

Rooms on the sixth floor of Commonwealth Health Regional Hospital of Scranton cleared out for a Code Yellow. But the evacuation wasn’t the real thing and neither were the patients and staff.

They were actually a dozen criminal justice students at Keystone College participating in a mock drill. The scenario? A fire on the sixth floor. Sophomore Criminal Justice student Julia Blahut portrayed an immobile patient.

“It is extremely difficult, especially with patients who are unable to walk or have a lot on them like IV’s and beds,” said the Pequannock, New Jersey woman.

Alexus Johnson, a Keystone College sophomore Criminal Justice student from Newark, Delaware added, “There’s so many people, patients, employees. If it doesn’t go well, a lot of people could get hurt. A lot of people can pass away.”

In the classroom, Criminal Justice instructor Ray Hayes teaches his students about such things as homeland security but this marked the first time he’s gotten them off campus and into this kind of setting.

“Where you can take the education component and transfer it into the training component is what really benefits the students,” he said.

As a former state trooper and one-time Director of Public Safety in Scranton, Mr. Hayes knows there is no substitute for handling a crisis than having proper practice.

“You have to get all of the bugs out of it. You have to have after-action reports and you learn from all of your mistakes,” he said.

Keystone College sophomore Criminal Justice student Elijah James Santana was among the evacuation drill participants. When asked if he could see how things could go south in a hurry in a crisis, the Crofton, Maryland man responded, “Oh yes. You have to know what you have to do because if one person messes up the whole thing starts to fall apart.”

Measuring the success of the hospital drill, Mr. Hayes hopes to give his criminal justice students other real-world experiences to make them better at their careers and better benefit the communities they serve.

“You know, the planning and everything is good but until the rubber meets the road, you really don’t understand,” he said.

Mr. Hayes added that his students also get an opportunity to serve internships at some local prisons.

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