First aider  Jesse Stevenson helps victim Gesley Fenelui

First aider Jesse Stevenson helps victim Gesley Fenelui

Mock disaster is final test for first-aid students

Final exams aren’t usually life and death matters. Nine Outdoor Pursuits students at Canadian Union College know differently.



LACOMBE — Final exams aren’t usually life and death matters.

Nine Outdoor Pursuits students at Canadian Union College know differently.

Their semester-long international advanced wilderness first-aid course ended with a simulated mudslide wiping out a Nepali school, leaving two dead and nearly 30 injured.

“Graduates should be able to help out from anything like Haitian earthquakes to flooding from typhoons in the Philippines like has happened recently — and maybe even a weekend camping trip,” said instructor Paul Lehmann.

The Outdoor Pursuits Department offers two-year diploma and three- and four-year bachelor of arts degrees with skills in practical outdoor knowledge, leadership and counselling, giving graduates a wide variety of job options.

Staying mostly silent, a Grade 8 and 9 College Heights Christian School class acted as victims, spreading out over the college’s central campus on Lacombe’s north side to await rescue in the one-and-a-half-hour exercise.

Each sported a sticker detailing injuries or symptoms; broken limbs, severe bleeding and unconsciousness were common. Many had conditions to further test rescuers, among them hypothermia, schizophrenia, aggression, hysteria and even pregnancy.

“It’s better than school because there’s no homework after this,” said Barbara Kiers, 13.

Most took the scenario seriously, doing their best to limp, groan and feign other injuries. By the midway point, it was a lark for some, two girls even singing the disco anthem Stayin’ Alive to entertain themselves.

As the exercise progressed, Lehmann told his first aiders about the threats of a second mudslide, violent lightning strikes and a possible natural gas leak in a nearby building.

“One told me this is quite a reality check. They’re going to debrief themselves a lot at the end.”

Rescuers searched for victims, then performed triage assessments and basic first aid before gathering the injured together for further treatment. All were then moved indoors to a makeshift hospital and assembled for transport.

“It went pretty good,” said first aider Kim McKay. “We got those out that we could.”

Team leader Leo Gulfan wasn’t so certain.

“My team did exceptionally well. I think we got everybody pretty quickly out of the danger zone.

“But we lost five people and as far as I know, we only had two at the start. If we’d come out with more people (alive), it would have been better.”

The scenario and exam over, the newly resurrected joined other victims and their rescuers for a pizza lunch.

rfiedler@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An Air Canada Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet arrives at Halifax Stanfield International Airport on Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Air Canada agrees to $5.9-billion aid package, giving Ottawa equity stake in airline

$1.4 billion earmarked to help reimburse thousands of customers

Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan takes part in a year-end interview with The Canadian Press at National Defence headquarters in Ottawa on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020. Sajjan took aim at recent Chinese military expansions into the South China Sea this evening even as he faced questions about the Liberal government’s ties to Beijing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Sajjan targets Chinese claims in South China Sea, battles Tories over Beijing ties

HMCS Calgary shadowed for at least part of the voyage as it passed near the disputed Spratly Islands

Transport trucks approach the Canada/USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. North American trade is facing a “critical moment” in the ongoing aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, say Canadian business leaders as they embark on a concerted campaign to fortify ties with the United States. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
Canada-U.S. trade faces ‘critical moment’ that demands urgent action, businesses warn

Will fall to Canada to ensure its best interests are represented

Two RCMP officers observe a moment of silence to honour slain Const. Heidi Stevenson and the other 21 victims of the mass killings at a checkpoint on Portapique Road in Portapique, N.S. on Friday, April 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
RCMP under scrutiny one year after mass killing that left 22 dead in Nova Scotia

Questions raised about why it took police 13 hours to stop mass killing

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Most Canadians plan to get COVID-19 vaccine, but safety fears drive hesitancy: poll

Almost one-fifth of Canadians have received at least one dose of vaccine

Letters
Letter: Leaders like MLA Jason Stephan should work towards greater good

Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan talks about the devastating social and… Continue reading

Opinion
Opinion: Women, hit hardest by pandemic, key to economic recovery

Events of the past year have laid bare the many disparities and… Continue reading

Children at the Port Angeles Boys & Girls Club practice social distancing throughout the day to minimize the spreading of germs and potentially the coronavirus. Photo courtesy of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula
Opinion: Teach young people these five principles

At all ages, young people may be the subject of mean behaviours… Continue reading

LtE bug
Letter: MLAs need to think about all Albertans

I was surprised to find more than a dozen UCP MLAs were… Continue reading

Sweden skip Niklas Edin makes a shot against Scotland in the Men's World Curling Championship gold medal final in Calgary, Alta., Sunday, April 11, 2021. Curling's Humpty's Champions Cup in Calgary has been pushed back a day due to the delayed finish of the men's world championship. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Start of Humpty’s Champions Cup pushed back a day in Calgary

Start of Humpty’s Champions Cup pushed back a day in Calgary

Men’s world curling championship in Calgary concludes amid COVID scare

Men’s world curling championship in Calgary concludes amid COVID scare

New York Yankees starting pitcher Gerrit Cole throws against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, April 12, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Higashioka and Cole help Yankees beat Blue Jays 3-1

Higashioka and Cole help Yankees beat Blue Jays 3-1

Alberta doctors say trust must be rebuilt after proposed new labour deal rejected

Alberta doctors say trust must be rebuilt after proposed new labour deal rejected

Most Read