Students from Oaklands College got the chance to experience first-hand what it was like to be rescued in a fire evacuation as part of a recent training mock evacuation at St Albans City Hospital.
The team of 25 Level 3 Public Services students played the role of hospital patients in an evacuation drill which took place in two disused wards at the hospital. The session was led by West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust and attended by firefighters from St Albans Fire and Rescue Service. Observers were provided from East of England Ambulance Service Trust, St John Ambulance, East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, East and North Herts Clinical Commissioning Group and Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group.
After a quick briefing, the students were assigned ‘roles’ as patients with varying degrees of physical ability and impairments in bays. Once the fire alarm was raised, it was up to the team of nurses, hospital staff and firefighters to act swiftly and to evacuate all of the student patients to safety from the three-story ward building.
The drill was one of a regular schedule of drill evacuations held to allow emergency services to collaborate with the hospital trusts and run through procedures. By taking on roles in the thick of the action, the students got a unique insight into the real-time quick thinking required by the hospital staff and emergency services and the importance of procedure and protocol in dealing with unforeseen emergencies.
Oaklands College Director of Curriculum for Public Services Liam McGrath said: “By getting up close and seeing how emergency services behave and react gave our students a real insight into the decisions emergency professionals make on a daily basis which may save someone’s life.
“It may have been a novelty to be lifted by firefighters or dragged from the building, but the experience taught them so much about the need for protocol, procedure, and to be prepared. The on-your-feet thinking they witnessed by the professionals around them are the kind of skills they will need to develop in their future careers.”