Drill tests local health community's readiness for disaster

Student volunteers don realistic makeup to become ‘patients'


SAN ANTONIO – A drill aimed at testing the local health community’s readiness to respond to disaster transformed some student volunteers into patients through the magic of makeup.

About 500 students, many of whom are preparing for careers in the health field, were expected to take part in the drill Tuesday morning.

They began arriving at the Shrine Auditorium, near Loop 1604 and Blanco Road, around 5:30 a.m. The students met with teams who, using ghastly looking "wounds" made from silicone to transform them into the walking wounded.

The volunteers played the roles of people injured in two types of scenarios.

“(Hospitals) will be receiving patients that have Ebola-like symptoms, and then there will be an air show explosion,” said Monica Jones, public information officer for the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council.

STRAC coordinated the event, although the drill also involved several local hospitals and health care workers, as well as military personnel and civilians from JBSA-Randolph and Brooks City.

Jones said the goal is “making our region more prepared, hoping that the hospitals in our region better communicate," in case of a disaster.

Once the volunteers were outfitted with their simulated wounds, they were loaded onto buses and taken to various hospital emergency rooms en masse. Staff members then had to determine how to treat them all at the same time.

Jones expected the drill to yield almost immediate feedback. She said that throughout the operation, various agencies would be sharing data with one another online.

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