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School of Medicine Greenville


USC School of Medicine Greenville hosted seventh annual emergency preparedness exercise

GREENVILLE, S.C. (August 27, 2018)--The University of South Carolina (USC) School of Medicine Greenville conducted its seventh annual disaster preparedness drill on August 24 in partnership with Greenville Health System (GHS), local law enforcement, fire departments and emergency medical services (EMS). This year’s event featured new challenges for the participants as well as new partners, including Greenville and Oconee County first responders, nursing students from Clemson University and Greenville Technical College and undergraduate pre-health students from USC and Clemson University. 

A capstone event for first-year medical students’ Emergency Medical Technician certification, this year’s exercise was split into two identical drills, instead of the usual four. Drills occurred at the medical school and the adjacent Clemson University Nursing building on GHS’ Greenville Memorial Medical Campus.

This year’s event was constructed around an active shooter scenario. Additionally, a decontamination component was added to the drill after a classroom of students became contaminated with an unknown substance inflicted by the assailants. As in the past, organizers made this experience as true-to-life as possible with sights and sounds of actual emergency situations, including sirens, costume makeup to mimic injuries, thick smoke, explosions, gunshots and belligerent patient-actors.

A new learning component consisted of second-year medical students and nursing students together in medical and nursing school classrooms with actual faculty instructors when the active shooter drill commenced. Faculty and students were not given a reaction script but instead were asked to apply their medical knowledge to help other victims as the active shooters proceeded through the building. Basic life support skills, such as wound care, were tested as well as participating together on an interprofessional care team.

“In its seventh year, our full-scale emergency drill continues to foster an all-hands-on-deck spirit from our medical students, our community partners, and this year, local nursing students,” said Thomas Blackwell, MD, director of the medical school’s EMT program. “We are very thoughtful about our approach to designing the drill to ensure that it is as relevant as possible for our future physicians and nurses, and for our first responders.”

To maintain an element of surprise for those involved, and to address current issues that are relevant to healthcare professionals and law enforcement, various customizations are added to the scenarios each year. In the past, participants have had to face hostage situations and armed patients in the triage area.

“It is imperative for our deputies to practice real-life scenarios, alongside other first responders and medical professionals so they can effectively serve the community during any type of situation,” said Sheriff Johnny Mack Brown. “What better method of preparation than what is orchestrated by the USC School of Medicine Greenville. We are very thankful for this revolutionary training.”  

The USC School of Medicine Greenville was the first in the country to require first-year medical students to complete an EMT certification course and maintain certification for two years. Students serve the community as EMTs during their first two academic years, which provides them with a breadth of in-person and interdisciplinary clinical experiences and increases their awareness of the populations and communities they’re serving.

“I have loved being a first-hand witness to the impressive evolution of this event and its increasing impact from both an education and community standpoint,” said Jerry Youkey, MD, dean of the medical school. “I am thrilled to welcome additional students this year, as we seek to implement interprofessional education opportunities that continually improve care for the benefit of the Upstate.”  

Many thanks to the Fluor Foundation for their generosity in making this hugely valuable event possible.