Berkeley Medical Reserve Corps trains to prepare for man-made disaster

Ujval Misra/Staff

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Buckets of fake blood and bright orange stretchers were scattered across Edwards Stadium on Sunday afternoon in preparation for a special disaster-response training session for members of the campus organizations Berkeley Medical Reserve Corps, or BMRC, and Berkeley Disaster Team.

Each semester, BMRC holds an event to train students in case of disaster. In the fall, the organization mimics a natural disaster, such as an earthquake, while in the spring, the training is for man-made disasters, such as shootings or bombings.

Student volunteers caked in fake blood had protruding objects glued to their skin to imitate wounds of disaster victims. Volunteers were each given three scenarios to act out.

Angela Tang-Tan, a campus sophomore and volunteer, said her scenarios included a wound to the back of the head, a gunshot to the torso, blown eardrums and internal injuries. To make the scenarios more realistic, students were assigned additional characteristics, such as addiction or pregnancy.

Volunteers were given acting directions by campus junior and deputy director of CPR of BMRC Karthik Ramesh, who instructed participants to “channel inner angst” as they squeezed their arms or clutched their chests in supposed pain.

After being positioned across the field, students began to scream and call for help. BMRC members rushed onto the field and dealt with each situation according to the assigned scenario. They lifted students onto stretchers, measured vitals and dressed wounds. BMRC members were later given feedback on their performance on the field.

The training was meant to help highlight strengths of the organization as well as discover weaknesses, according to Thibault Philippine, a campus senior and the director of the BMRC.

Philippine added that since its founding in 2014, BMRC has twice been used in natural disasters: once in the 2015 Valley Fire and once in the Santa Rosa fires in 2017.

“If there’s anything that overwhelms the campus, we can respond,” Philippine said.

Sharon Yau, a campus senior and the deputy director of disaster preparedness of BMRC, said the biggest challenge in hosting the event was having to deal with the growing number of BMRC members.

This was the first time that the Berkeley Disaster Team was included in the event. The group used the disaster drill to practice providing psychological first aid to trauma victims.

Kendall Lee, a campus junior as well as the founder and director of the Berkeley Disaster Team, said the event was a good way to prepare him for a field in public health.

“I want to work for the government in the future for disaster response, so having this insight on how to gather the community together is good experience,” Lee said.

Contact Isabella Sabri at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @isabella_sabri.