Reaction times and safety tested in crisis simulation

Eric Rowe – Staff Writer

As smoke filled the air, displaced dorm-dwellers, student observers, and Dordt staff members stood and waited for the fire department to arrive. The fire simulation in east hall on Oct. 21 may have been to help first responders prepare for a disaster, but it involved a large part of campus in its preparation and execution.

The large-scale fire drill required first responders from the city of Sioux Center to evacuate and clear all people from the building safely.

Some students had the opportunity to be put in the building to force the firefighters to deal with real people. Smoke machines set the atmosphere of the fake blaze.

Simulation Eli (1 of 2)The firefighters had no knowledge of how many victims were caught in the fire.

Two fire engines and one aerial truck surrounded the dorm and three ambulances moved into the parking lot next door. Police officers blocked traffic along the stretch of 7th St that runs by the fire lane.

Trevor Zonnefeld was the first volunteer victim to be pulled from the fake smoke.

“It was a little scary,” Zonnefeld said. “I was down in the basement and you couldn’t see a foot in front of you.”

Ben Kuiper and Jon Janssen were also planted throughout east hall.

“I wasn’t quite sure what was going on,” Ben Kuiper said. “Which helped the simulation I guess.”

“It was intense,” Janssen said. “It was professionally done. They knew what they were doing.”

The simulation drew a crowd outside the dorm.

“I think it’s kind of pointless,” East hall dweller Nick Holty said. “I would want to be a volunteer. It makes it more exciting rather than waiting around.”

Ryan Ruenholl came from the Commons and heard the pre alarm to get everyone out. He thought he would grab some things from his room, but the side doors were locked so he stuck around and watched the event.

“I wonder how many people in North have their headphones in and don’t know what’s going on,” said senior Eli Anderson.

The event started at 6:30 p.m. After the feigned fire in east hall, the action moved to the science building which was locked down for a mock-shooter scenario.

The volunteers who helped facilitate these scenarios included theatre, social work and criminal justice students.

Most of the students who played victims were made up with burns or gunshot wounds using theater make up. Moulage is the art of creating fake injuries, and is quite common in crisis simulations.

“It’s an opportunity to use theater skills in ways that we don’t think of,” said theater professor Teresa Ter Haar.

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