Disaster scenario provides vital training for students

8 September 2023

Please note that this news item includes images of special effect wounds.

A major incident exercise designed to offer a realistic disaster scenario for medical students has been hailed a success.

Project Minerva involved simulating the scene of a multi-vehicle road accident at Westcott Venture Park with many ‘casualties’, most of whom were in minibuses having attended a wedding.

Nearly 150 year 3 medical students from The University of Buckingham were then tasked with dealing with a wide range of ‘injuries’, some potentially fatal. They included burns as well as a recreation of the mass panic such an incident causes.

Actor with special effect wound on side of the head45 actors along with student volunteers played the victims with a special make-up artist applying the ‘wounds’ at the event which took place on 7 September.

The aim was for the medical students to understand how to deal with managing major trauma events and of working collaboratively with the emergency services, as well as other parties, such as the media and council staff, in a situation as close to real life as possible.

The students had been given a range of workshops and lectures in the build-up to the event on before putting the teaching into practice.

Dr Joanne Selway, Phase 1 Lead at University of Buckingham Medical School, said:

“Our students get a lot of experience in a clinical setting during their training, this exercise allows them to hone their skills in the community and help prepare them for any situation as a clinician or as a member of the public when off-duty.”

Professor Joanne Harris, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, said:

“This is a fantastic opportunity for the University to engage with the local community and emergency services to help train our future doctors in critical care delivery.”Special effect leg injury

Thames Valley Police, South Central Ambulance Service, Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service (BFRS), and Buckinghamshire Council were all involved and were able to test their command structures in what was the largest event of its kind run by the university.

Significantly, all the major emergency services have a presence at Westcott with BFRS providing a base for the Urban Search and Rescue team, while the Rapid Response Medical Group provides ambulance services and Thames Valley Police also use Westcott as a base when patrolling the area.

Another beneficiary was the Rapid Relief Team (RRT), which provides global support to disaster victims and those in need. Having provided food on the day, it was given a donation.