HORNELL, N.Y. (WETM) — Mass casualty events are unfortunate and uncommon but still could happen at any moment, because of that, area hospitals need to be prepared for any event. One local hospital in Steuben County spent some time last week preparing and training for such an event.

St. James Hospital in Hornell partnered with area emergency services and BOCES Wildwood Criminal Justice Program to conduct a highly successful mass casualty drill on Wednesday, Oct. 4, to enhance the hospital’s emergency preparedness protocols.

The drills took 31 students from the BOCES Program and put them in numerous situations for hospital staff to work through, such as an accident on Interstate 86 involving a school bus and fertilizer truck collision with numerous degrees of injuries.

One of the student “victims” of the BOCES Wildwood Criminal Justice Program took part in the simulation and showed a red SMART tag indicating a serious injury.

Emergency crews and hospital staff were able to learn from these scenarios with the students to practice their emergency operations plan and make sure they worked through everything effectively.

Nurses at St. James see drills like this as an essential tool in helping the staff stay up-to-date and prepared in the event of a mass casualty event.

“The collaboration between St. James Hospital and local EMS groups is essential to prepare for real-life events,” said Kaleigh Porcaro, Nursing Director at St James. “Unfortunately, a mass casualty event can happen at any time,” she said, “Our Emergency Department is equipped and prepared for these events, and our staff is dedicated to providing patients with the best possible outcome,” she said.

The 31 students from BOCES helped the medical staff by using the SMART tagging system in their injury scenarios, with them being designated with a tag of black, red, yellow, or green. Black for deceased, red for seriously injured, yellow for non-life-threatening, and green for minor injury.

Students could be seen inside the hospital on beds with a variety of different outfits on along with their tags to indicate to the staff how they should be treated.

The students saw this as an eye-opening experience for them, allowing them to be a realistic touch to the simulation.

“The drill helped open our eyes to all situations that can happen in the Emergency Department and the protocols that nurses and doctors use,” said Kahley Stuary, a student participant from BOCES. “As criminal justice students, it taught us what we can expect working in law enforcement,” she said.