Mock Disaster Course
Prepares First Responders
Three-day field experience mimics real-world challenges
By Maya Bell
Photographs by Andrew Inerrarity
The 30 faculty, staff and students — many from the medical campus — who signed up for UM’s inaugural humanitarian disaster response course in late June didn’t know what they were in for. Conducted by the Miller School in partnership with the School of Nursing and Health Studies, the exercise dropped participants into imaginary chaos — a Caribbean island nation that had just experienced a major earthquake and tsunami.
They were confronted by suspicious customs agents who questioned their presence, set up a small tent city, arranged food handouts and triaged “victims” who rushed their ER as soon as it was open. Much of this took place during a real-life Miami tornado warning that temporarily suspended the exercise. Nonetheless, the course was pronounced a success and may now be offered on a regular basis.
Course participants were challenged — and yelled at — by volunteers portraying local officials and guntoting rebels as they tried to distribute food (each wooden stake represented a bag of rice) and care for the injured.