Nursing students take part in UTC police training
One student was shot in the legs and had to be carried out of the building.
One was shot in the chest.
One was shot in the back but no one noticed.
Luckily, the shots weren’t real—and neither were the wounds.
The mayhem was part of a recent training exercise in which officers in the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Police Department dealt with how they would react to an active shooter on campus.
The six students are all seniors in the UTC School of Nursing. While they were victims and not nurses in the various scenarios, they said they still learned lessons from watching the police officers that will help them in their future careers.
“Yes, we were the victims, but also we saw the care that they would provide putting on the tourniquets and how they would escort the victims out and just how they all would work together,” said nursing student Daniel Morataya.
“I learned that all situations are a little bit different,” said student Maggie Howell.
“Whenever people hear ‘active shooter drills’ or just ‘active shooters,’ I guess they just think of shooting and loud noise,” she said. “But there are also situations where it’s very quiet, and that’s not what you expect. It’s very eerie. Or it could be very chaotic. It can be a lot of things. You never know what you’re going to walk into.”
Although they played the shooter’s victims, the students’ medical training came into play in some scenarios. There were times when in the midst of the chaos—which took place in the Doctor’s Building on McCallie Avenue—a police officer would shout: “Is there anyone that has experience in medicine?”
“Because in a real-life situation, you want all hands on deck if people are bleeding out,” said student Mallory Collier. “Part of their training was to ask if there were any medical professionals that could help them.”
UTC Police Chief Robert Ratchford said the students were indispensable to the exercise, known as Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training, or ALERRT.
“It’s all part of the training that we’re going through right now,” he said. “We train other folks and, of course, the police get trained as well. Sometimes people don’t know exactly what all we do in this ALERRT training. It not only emphasizes neutralizing a shooter as far as that component, but we also stop the dying, too.”
School of Nursing Director Chris Smith said that, even though the nursing students mostly played victims instead of medical personnel, the experience was valuable.
“I think it was important for them to participate because most likely some of them are going to end up in the emergency room or ICUs,” Smith said. “To experience it from the front end as a patient and then seeing it on the back end as a provider, as a nurse, I think it gives them the full picture.”