Don’t panic: This is just a drill!

The scene in Gransha Wood outside Derry  during a previous Ulster University crisis training exercise with the emergency services and voluntary agencies. Picture Inpresspics.com
The scene in Gransha Wood outside Derry during a previous Ulster University crisis training exercise with the emergency services and voluntary agencies. Picture Inpresspics.com

If you happen to be in the vicinity of the Ulster University at Magee this weekend - and see the place flooded with emergency vehicles - don’t panic.

Nothing untoward is happening - it’s just part of a massive training exercise in a partnership between the university, Derry City and Strabane District Council and other voluntary and statutory bodies.

More than 300 people, the majority of whom are nursing students at the university, will take part in the one day Community Resilience and Disaster Response Event.

The day will be broken up into eight different training sessions - with students and volunteers dealing with a mock mass casualty with triage accident; a 10 bed emergency ward; the evacuation of a nursing home; the evacuation of a maternity ward; a community response to suicide; a flood displaced community; white powder, hazardous material and a public health emergency in form of an Ecoli outbreak.

Pat Deeney, Senior Lecturer at Ulster University’s School of Nursing said that while exercises such as these have been carried out in the past, it has never been done on this scale before and this is also the first time that it has been arranged in conjunction with Derry City and Strabane District Council.

“The campus is ideal for this kind of event, we have the space to do it in a way that should not disrupt the local community,” he said.

“But it is important we let people in the area know that there will be a lot of activity on campus and emergency services will be in attendance - but they shouldn’t be alarmed.”

The large scale training session has been about a year in the planning - and has been put together through meticulous collaboration between the city and district council, using their own Community Resilience policies as well as in collaboration with the Western Trust, Public Health Agency, Red Cross and emergency services.

Pat said that while the event slotted in well with requirements for newly qualifying nursing staff to have a level of competency when dealing with disaster situations.

“The event offers our year three students, who will all be set to graduate shortly, the chance to bring up their skill set and meet these competencies.

“It also gives everyone involved a greater awareness of what could happen in larger scale emergencies. It prepares them as students and as citizens of this city.”

The event will take place over 10 hours, with students from other year groups volunteering to take on the roles of casualties.

“There are so many benefits to the day,” Pat added. “The teamwork aspect, being able to bring the Community Resilience plan to life etc.

“Students get to show their leadership skills and have experience working in situations that don’t come about every day.

“We have evaluated this in the past and students have found it to be a very positive experience.”

The event will run on Saturday from around 8.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m.