Nearly 300 Edison High School students got hands-on experience with triage and search-and-rescue on Monday morning. A simulated school bus "explosion" was part of a four-hour training exercise at the Public Safety Magnet school. The students played the role of first responders.
It's a scenario that no one wants to see happen: An I.E.D. explodes on an SAISD school bus, injuring several dozen students--followed by a second blast a few minutes later.
The simulated explosion went off on a bus at 10 a.m. and students immediately mobilized with team leaders directing fire cadets and other first responders to assist "victims" of the mock disaster.
"Given the modern day and age we want to prepare our students for any type of possibility, any type of unforeseen event no matter how tragic it might be," said Philip de la Pena, the Coordinator for the Law Enforcement, Fire Science, and Health Professions magnet at Edison.
Fire engines and ambulances entered the school quickly. Students took the responsibilities of fire fighters, using hoses to extinguish the school bus. Paramedics rushed onto the football field where injured students lay.
The victims, played by drama students, were given life-like injuries.
Police and forensic teams scoured the detonated bus for evidence, interrogating and arresting a "suspect" during the demonstration. Each victim was taken to the gymnasium triage as health students acted as nurses and dental students examined x-rays and dental impressions to identify the deceased.
As the exercise went on, team leaders ordered local media members to get out of the way of first responders, and from there student public information officers took over to give statements and update the press on casualties and damage. Carina Peña provided the press with information as it unfolded.
"Nobody was injured in the second bombing, but the first bombing there [were] a lot of people injured. So far we only have four fatalities," Peña said.
Though the students controlled the situation by themselves for the most part, San Antonio fire, police and emergency services departments gave their insight.
"A lot of these students are really interested in becoming police officers and fire fighters,” said Christian Bov, a spokesman with the fire department. "For them to get this experience at anywhere from 15 years old to 18 years old is really irreplaceable."
The exercise was topped off as a helicopter landed to pick up an "injured" fire fighter.