PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — The scene was set Tuesday morning at Gulf Coast State College to give students training to be first responders a unique hands-on experience.

Students arrived to treat multiple victims of a simulated boating accident.

“There are going to be mental health injuries,” GCSC Associate Nursing Professor Carol Miller said. “There are going to be parents with simulated children with our mannequins because that’s always difficult to deal with, and just a wide variety of things that are going on in addition to the trauma. Someone may be having a heart attack, someone may have something else going on as well as what they’re dealing with all the victims. And so they have to learn how to figure out how to prioritize who needs to be treated first. And when they need to move on to another victim.”

Students training to be medical professionals, police officers, firefighters, and EMS all worked together in response to the mass casualty event.

“This particular exercise is so that people learn to work together,” GCSC BSN student Kimberly Dickey said. “It’s not so much about the actual skills, but how law enforcement and nurses, and EMTs all get together. Because the more we can communicate, the better we are as a team, and the more people survive. And that’s what counts.”

While students in these different programs train for these situations regularly, the opportunity to practice with the other professions is rare.

“This is a great opportunity for them to go ahead and learn the kind of ways to communicate effectively on a team, how to respect each other’s roles and responsibilities, and just know what the other people bring to the team,” Miller said. “And it’s just a safe environment for them to learn. And if there are mistakes made, it’s a really easy way to correct those kinds of behaviors and figure out what’s a more effective way to do it.”

Organizers said the last time the school put on an event like this was in 2017.