Scouts-L Mail Archive for September of 1998: Re: Mock Disaster (Use caution on "unannounced" drills)
Re: Mock Disaster (Use caution on "unannounced" drills)
Mon, 28 Sep 1998 16:04:16 -0500
With regard to the discussion about "unannounced" or surprise first aid
I would respectfully offer one note of caution. Our experience has been that
such events are potentially dangerous and psychologically detrimental for
some individuals. I have observed and even participated in such
drills and noted the adverse effects of fright and anger, which long ago
to revise our policy to prohibit unannounced exercises (even at Summer
Emergency preparedness merit badge drills).
The anger that Scouts have expressed when they are subjected to a
situation" (without prior knowledge that the event is only a simulation) can
have adverse effects, and may actually inhibit the desired result of
preparedness and training. Such events have been known to cause
"post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)" for some individuals just as if the
event had been real. PTSD requires counseling by trained counselors to
debrief and mitigate the effects of such events on pre-hospital first
We have learned in Community Disaster Education, you can't motivate folks
to prepare for disasters by "scaring them" (e.g., showing them actual footage
of major damage and injured individuals), because they will simply go
into denial and do nothing. They are best motivated by positively
with training and realistic presentations of how they can effectively
prepare for and deal with such emergencies.
Our Director of Emergency Management is also the advisor for the Emergency
Management Explorer Post and the event coordinator for our Mock Disasters.
He will not permit any "unannounced" simulations, even for professional
first responders and especially for youth.
It is far better to provide Scouts and Explorers with Incident Command and
First Aid training and to mentally prepare them for such exercises, by
going through small simulations and then working up to more complex
Positive empowerment of the Scouts and Explorers with announced simulations
have a far better effect overall than unannounced simulations that are
as being real.
Emergency Service Trainers have found that in times of emergency people
resort automatically to training and experience they have previously had in
simulations to competently handle real scenarios.
Our Emergency Management Explorer Post and Explorers from throughout a
three council area have been annually planning and hosting the Explorer
Mock Disaster since 1993 in the Front Range area of Colorado. The 1994
event was featured in "Exploring" Magazine. The event has grown considerably
since the first effort, with an annual participation in excess of 250
Explorers, Scouts, and adult leaders. A variety of scenarios have been
utilized, starting with an airplane crash, then a schoolbus accident,
and more recently, law enforcement explorers have devised scenarios with
bombings and terrorist involvement.
The key element is that the Explorers completely plan and conduct the event
with Explorers and Scouts in all the roles. Adults serve as advisors and
resources for training purposes, and to assist in procurement of equipment
For Scouts, we give a participation certificate that allows them to
get signed off for the exercise requirement of the Emergency Preparedness
merit badge. Most of the Scouts sign up as medical "victims" for moulage
and some sign up as hostages for the terrorist scenario.
For those interested, our Explorer Mock Disaster web pages with numerous
photos of prior events and organizational descriptions are as follows:
(Emergency Management Explorer Post 493)
(Explorer Mock Disaster 98)
(Explorer Mock Disaster 99)
At 09:40 AM 9/24/98 -0400, Bill & Beth Reiller wrote:
>However, they did not know it
>was a drill, not even the other victims knew this was only a drill.
The Explorers however did panic. Where they
>have participated several times in lost person drills and actual cases, it
>was never one of their own. She was found in about 20 minutes. Now the
>Explorers were angry with me because I had scared them, but realized what
>they did wrong..
Bob Amick, EMT-B, Advisor, Venturing Crew 72/SSS72, Boulder, CO
Longs Peak Council Exploring/Venturing Training Chair
Explorer Mock Disaster Steering Committee Advisor
American Red Cross Community Disaster Education Instructor