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University of Limerick will host emergency response exercise to test skills of students

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The response to this emergency will test the skills of students of medicine, nursing and paramedics in one of the biggest exercises of its kind at the University of Limerick (UL) on January 25.

The exercise, which is focused on students rather than existing professionals, is the idea of Frank Keane, a specialist in major incident training.

Mr Keane, from Ennis, Co Clare, is course director of the BSc in paramedic studies at UL and formerly worked with the National Ambulance Service (NAS).

“We spend so many years training doctors and nurses and midwives and paramedics and they all qualify on a Friday, and we expect them to be able to work together the following Monday,” Mr Keane said. “All of these students will end up working with or in the emergency services at some point.”

Working with the students will be staff from Limerick Fire and Rescue Service, the NAS, the Army Ordnance Corps (“bomb squad”), Garda Armed Support Unit, Limerick Civil Defence and the Irish Coast Guard.

There will also be a class of paramedics from the NAS, garda probationers and students of make-up from Carlow Institute of Further Education, along with staff from the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind.

​After the car crashes into the ‘crowd’, the students will be asked to respond to an evolving emergency situation, handle multiple casualties, deal with a crime scene and implement a swift water rescue.

Fifty to 60 ‘casualties’ will have to be triaged and treated, a field hospital will be set up and the event will culminate in the Irish Coast Guard Rescue 115 from Shannon flying in to the UL campus.

“Triage can be brutal, as you are literally moving along casualties and giving them cards, depending on their degree of injury. Students have to experience that,” Mr Keane said.

Training in major incidents was one of the issues that arose in response to the bombing after the Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena in May 2017 that killed 22 people and injured hundreds more.

“The first paramedic there was initially criticised and then exonerated when it emerged he was triaging patients and doing his job,” Mr Keane said.

“We will have an emergency department in the UL school of nursing where casualties will be moved from the field hospital. All of the students will have a chance to train in transferring a casualty on to a helicopter while the rotors are turning.”

Three incident locations will be involved, all on the UL north campus, and the students will not have details in advance.

“We did a smaller exercise last year, but this year’s is the biggest of its type,” Mr Keane said.

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