BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Around 500 Gulf Coast State College students responded to a disaster Friday… a mock disaster.

The college staged a mock fire with mass causalities.

The “real-world” experience teaches students how to cooperate and coordinate their responses while preparing them for their future careers.

“I think it helps me most by being able to see the other side’s perspective and being able to build those teamwork skills that we need in the real world,” health sciences student Hali Peacock said.

From start to finish, this event got students out of the classroom and working together like they would in the real world.

“It’s really important for our students to get to work with each other,” coordinator Jennifer Barber said “They learn other disciplines’ scope of practice. It also teaches them good communication skills so that when they become part of the community and have these careers, they already have a basis for working together, communicating together, and taking the best care of our patients.”

Peacock said the hands-on experience taught her a lot.

“I believe we all learned a lot. I’m mainly learning respiratory, but I learned some things from nursing. I believe nursing learned some things from us And even talking with like the X-ray technicians and the paramedics, we all have something to bring to the table and it’s important for those things to be successful in a critical situation.”

After they finished the event, the students discussed what they learned.

“We debrief them afterward, ask them, ‘What could you have done differently? What could you have done better? What did you do? That was great?’ then we learn from each one of those learning situations and just make the next one better,” Barber said.

College representatives said this is the largest of this type of event they’ve ever staged.

They also say they want to make this an annual event.