Sunday, October 18, 2009

Playing Dead

Every year SEPTA is required by federal mandate to conduct a full-scale emergency simulation. This year's practice scenario was the collision of an automobile, a stranded passenger train, and a diesel fueled work train. Volunteers play the role of passengers and SEPTA staff who would be injured or killed during the accident. You see a lot of kids volunteering for the service hours needed for school or other organizations. They are encouraged to scream, yell, and otherwise get into the role. (Neighbors who weren't alerted in advance often get concerned.) I know that in some (all?) scenarios one or more volunteers are asked to simulate people with physical challenges of some kind, for example, wheelchair bound. Some volunteers are told they have an underlying medical problem that may not be evident to the emergency personnel, as an added test. In previous years volunteers have been made up so the pretend injuries are more realistic, but this hasn't happened for the past few years.

This is an excellent opportunity for the community to come together for a common good. The volunteers get a chance to contribute to a good cause and do something out of the ordinary at the same time. SEPTA crews get the chance to hone their skills so they can react more quickly and accurately in a real emergency.

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