Students learn from ‘major incident’ exercise on York campus
Published: 24 October 2023
Students from paramedic science, professional policing, journalism and performance have been putting their skills to the test in a series of dramatic emergency scenarios. North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and North Yorkshire Police were supported by student actors and York St John University staff to create scenes including a flat fire, drug den investigation and sudden death.
Held on the Lord Mayor’s Walk campus, the Simulation Day gave around 100 students from a range of different courses a realistic experience of dealing with emergencies in their future careers. Using skills gained in their respective programmes, students take on the professional roles they are learning about.
Paramedic students assisted the ‘injured’ who were played by actors from the University’s performance course alongside professionals. Other victim roles were filled by manikins, expertly made up with moulage by our Health Technician team.
Policing students gathered evidence and managed the investigation, working alongside Fire and Rescue Service Colleagues. Journalism students attended the emergency cordon, giving them a taste of trying to piece a story together when covering a real crime scene. They carried out mock interviews with their fellow students and emergency responders to discover details of the event and subsequent police investigation.
The day was also attended by Zoë Metcalfe, North Yorkshire Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner, who ran a session with the students.
Matt Perry, Programme Lead for Paramedic Science, is the Simulation Day organiser. He said: "I draw together a wide range of professional groups so that we can all experience working together. At York St John we are lucky to have colleagues in Policing and Journalism as well as health related programmes such as Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy that participate to make days like this a success.”
“External partners, such as Yorkshire Fire and Rescue play such an important role in our community and we are proud to work with them to not only support our students’ education but their training as well. Simulation days are not an optional extra but an important feature of many programmes where students can gain practical experience and apply their skills in a meaningful way.”
Zoë Metcalfe, Police Fire and Crime Commissioner for York and North Yorkshire said: “Thank you very much for inviting me to experience your live exercise, it was very realistic and an excellent practical training for the policing, medical and drama students.
“When I walked into the exercise area I could see teams working around the injured trying to preserve life whilst the fire service were still bringing out the injured from the smoke filled flat. The policing students had to work out what had happened and who to arrest. It was great that the local policing team were also on hand to share their real life experiences and offer advice to the policing students.”
Jen Jarvie, Lecturer in Professional Policing said: “It was a challenging and thoroughly enjoyable day for our students. They were thrown into the chaos and stayed calm and collected while putting their learning into practice. We were proud of how they stepped up to the mark and conducted themselves on the day, remaining professional throughout the experience. They will make fantastic police officers.”
Antony Stones, Senior Lecturer in Paramedic Science said: “Simulation days are an invaluable opportunity for students to experience a significant event, such as a mass-casualty incident, in a managed, safe setting. They are able to put in place the skills that they've been developing in the classroom and see how those skills transfer across to paramedic practice. Even at a very early stage in their education, the students are able to respond in a logical, structured manner; triaging patients, taking a history, carrying out clinical assessments, and starting to form a management plan. It's fantastic to see how quickly students develop these fundamental skills.
“It is also important that paramedics are able to work alongside other emergency service professionals. Simulation days allow them to practice inter-professional working in a far more realistic environment than the standard classroom or skills lab model allows.”
Jaz Khan, Lecturer in Professional Policing said: “The Simulation Day gives the students an excellent opportunity to apply their module knowledge, skills and competencies around major and critical incidents. They are tested around decision making, teamworking and emergency protocols and asked to deal with victims, witnesses and suspects and apply their investigative strategies. There are leadership opportunities too as some take on the role of Inspector or Sergeant.”
First trialled on campus in 2022, Simulation Days are now a regular part of the curriculum, with organisers expanding to include more course areas each time. Each event is months in the planning and are usually based on the real incidents that academic staff have attended over their years in practice. Each scenario is written to ensure every participating programme and group learns something from the day.
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