Emergency responders and trainees in disaster management practiced and applied skills in a midwest disaster simulation with realistic scenarios at Mozingo Lake Recreation Park over three days.
Missouri Hope provides emergency management professionals and students an opportunity to gain real-life experience in the stress-inducing situation of a mass casualty disaster.
The focus this year was on managing the aftermath of a fictional tornado that displaced, injured and killed role-playing volunteer actors. Northwest hosted the exercise at the Mozingo Outdoor Education Recreation Area and Mozingo Youth Camp.
The three-day event, which is in its seventh year of operation, lasted from Oct. 4 through Oct. 6, where agency personnel from police, fire and rescue assisted students in logistics, prioritizing of assistance and other important aspects of responding to a crisis.
The set up is different year to year at Missouri Hope, and this year presented two additions from previous years. Life Net in St. Joseph, Missouri, and Clarinda, Iowa, held an aviation safety class Oct. 4 and the Midwest Regional Dive Team led over-water rescues.
Senior Savannah Baker volunteered as a logistics team member, helping get supplies and make sure responders had what they needed through resource management.
“We are the ‘stuff getters,’ so anything anybody would need in order to make the exercise function well,” Baker said. “If participants call for certain things, we take it out to them, usually supplies from the trailer EDM brings.”
The EDM program at Northwest encourages profession-based learning and provides its students with opportunities like Missouri Hope to expand their experience and familiarity with crisis prior to graduation.
Campus Community Emergency Response Team Training is part one aspect of Missouri Hope, where the exercises are expected to meet certain standards set out by professionals in the area of EDM.
In this year's exercise, participants gained experience in five different tracks or approaches to disaster management and rescue: a high-angle rescue, response to a mass casualty incident, an over-water rescue, knowledge of emergency operation centers and experience in a field hospital.
Northwest-Kansas City Marketing and Recruitment Coordinator Michael McVinua volunteered at the event, helping oversee the triage response areas and driving the victims from the scene to the field hospital. He said the process as getting victims in a common area, prioritizing who needs the most attention and transporting victims to the hospital in order of importance.
“This track is one of the most hands-on of them all,” McVinua said. “This is the initial screaming, yelling, all that kind of blood and gore, which if they’re not ready for it, it’ll wake them up.”
Earlier this year, the Missouri National Guard built a lookout tower in partnership with Northwest to help facilitate the high-angle rescue and overall training regimine. The tower sits near the triage response area.
Baker said participants got to feel, in a surreal way, how responders do in those situations of being the first on a disaster scene. She credited the role players for their work in fitting the role they were assigned by the moulage and casualty simulation artists.
Senior biomedical sciences major Infiniti Anderson participated as a role player who was cut in the abdomen, resulting in intestines hanging out of her body. The makeup artists made it appear realistic, creating a macabre situation for responders and the role she volunteered to fill.
“My role is to be in denial of the situation and unaware of the severity of my injury,” Anderson said. “It has been a really good experience; you really see all sides of the situation by doing this.”
According to the moulage casualty simulation organizer and associate professor in the Behavioral Sciences Department Lauren Leach-Steffens the realism in the exercises throughout Missouri Hope is essential to participants’ legitimate reactions and ability to conduct effective crisis management.
“This practice is aimed to train people with the most realism possible,” Leach-Steffens said. “It takes a certain amount of art and a certain amount of science. You have to know how bruises bruise and you have to know how things bleed.”
The moulage crew of five amateur artists kept busy throughout the weekend, doing special effects makeup on eight people per hour for Missouri Hope. They completed work on more than 40 role players throughout one day.
Close to 200 students played the role of victims throughout the weekend. A field hospital with medical students from the University of Missouri-Kansas City was set up near the triage area, where students treated victims from top to lowest priority.
Assistant Professor at the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies Sharon White-Lewis led students in the field hospital, officially known as the Disaster Medical Operations Module. She said the hospital was provided by partnering organizations of Missouri Hope.
“They set it up in our triage colors of green, yellow and red, meaning walking and wounded, those in need of hospital attention and the critically ill,” White-Lewis said. “We will get close to 40 victims for four nursing students to take care of.”
Jace Pine, deputy exercise director at Missouri Hope and senior in Northwest’s emergency and disaster management program, said local agencies bring supplies and people to provide a good, diverse platform for trainees to experience.
“Every year, we learn a little bit more about how we can set up,” Pine said. “We provide a platform for them to use this stuff.”
Each year, Missouri Hope is sponsored by Northwest’s Consortium for Humanitarian Service and Education. Hope training events take place around the country at different times throughout the year, and the NCHSE helps make Northwest Missouri another place on that list.
Other participants in the exercises at MOERA unavailable for comment were students from the State University of New York-Albany, Northern Oklahoma University, the Atchison-Holt County Ambulance District, Buchanan County EMS, NTA Ambulance District-Bethany and Maryville Fire Department.
Executive Director and Coordinator of the University’s EDM program said what made 2019 different was the expertise of the staff.
“We have EDM students that have graduated, gone on to do awesome things, and are coming back to help make the exercise better,” Carr said. “This is our seventh year offering this exercise and we continue to up the standard.”