MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - First responders in Shelby and surrounding counties simulated a mass shooting drill Wednesday to test the capabilities of area hospitals to accept a large influx of patients at one time.
Hundreds of participants gathered at the Agricenter around 7:30 on Wednesday morning to be prepped with makeup and fake blood. Participants also received a sheet with the severity of their wounds or injuries. Many of the "injured" were students of the health sciences in the Memphis area.
"It can happen at any time. You never know, and you need to be prepped for it," said Shauna Jurica, a nursing student at Southwest Tennessee Community College.
The Mid-South Emergency Planning Coalition and the Shelby County Health Department coordinated the exercise. Different themes are picked each year, but the idea of a mass shooting was actually selected well before the tragic events in Las Vegas last week.
"It's an unfortunate coincidence that this occurred in real life," said Dr. Helen Morrow, Health Officer, Shelby County Health Department, "It can happen at any time. You never know, and you need to be prepped for it."
From the Agricenter, the patients were bussed to a list of more than a dozen participating hospitals in multiple Mid-South counties.
WMC Action News 5 got a first-hand look as the patients arrived at Baptist Memphis off Walnut Grove Road. In events like this, Baptist would monitor the impact at all its hospitals from its Patient Placement Center, where registered nurses in Memphis keep track of open bed and hospital traffic system-wide.
"It's definitely a challenge that's going to happen a lot more often," said Clarence Featherstone, a nursing student at Southwest Tennessee Community College.
Featherstone will become a nurse in December. He said a mass shooting drill like this is a sad reality of a job on the front lines.