Health professions students participate in emergency simulation at Portland International Jetport

Shown is the Portland International Jetport main terminal.
Nearly 100 students from UNE's Westbrook College of Health Professions volunteered for the exercise.

Nearly 100 students from six programs within the University of New England Westbrook College of Health Professions (WCHP) took part in a large-scale emergency exercise at the Portland International Jetport on Saturday, Sept. 16.

The students acted as victims of a simulated plane crash on the Jetport’s tarmac, helping first responders from multiple agencies evaluate their current emergency response procedures. The drill is required every three years by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Students participated in the event as part of a service-learning opportunity. Trisha Mason, M.A., director of service-learning within WCHP, said the numbers of student volunteers for service-learning continue to climb with each opportunity presented this year.

“As we have returned to in person service-learning, this event serves as just one example of the deep commitment among our WCHP students to engage in community service,” Mason said.

Kyoung Kong, B.S., (D.P.T., ’22), was instructed to present responders with a head laceration and numbness in his legs after being trapped in the downed aircraft. After being triaged for his symptoms by first responders — and later simulating loss of all leg function — Kong was transported from the scene in an ambulance as if he were a real patient.

Kong said the experience demonstrated the roles that all health professionals can play in a disaster situation. As a future physical therapist, he imagined himself in a hospital setting, working with other providers to assess patients’ injuries and developing care plans based on their severity.

“We got to see from firsthand experience how an emergency response team would operate in terms of a disaster,” he said. “This was a really unique opportunity as a health professions student.”

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Kyoung Kong (D.P.T., ’22)

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