Medical students participate in disaster drill simulating a mass casualty on Long Island


BETHPAGE, NY – Long Island medical students are ready for a potential disaster.

The Zucker School of Medicine has provided its freshmen with unique training to respond to a major accident.

As TSTIME’s Carolyn Gusoff reports, these future doctors are also learning to become EMTs.

The screams are simulated, and so is the smoke, but the scenario is all too real: a mass shooting on a train or a derailment. In this exercise, medical students learn how chaotic and critical the frontline is.

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Ninety-nine freshmen from the Zucker School of Medicine in Hofstra/Northwell teamed up with the Nassau Fire Academy, which teaches them what hell can look like.

“It’s one thing to talk about it. It’s one thing to plan for it, but until it’s practical, you’re not building the muscle memory it takes,” said Chief Michael Strong of the Nassau County Fire Service Academy.

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“This is what we want because in a real situation we’re going to have such chaos, people screaming, yelling, reaching for the rescuers,” said EMS instructor George Sandas.

The exercise teaches future doctors to think and act decisively.

“Absolutely a lot to take in. A little stressful, but in a good way, you know. I think it’s a great learning experience,” said medical student Allison Winter.

Because disaster can strike anywhere: a terrorist attack, a crash, a mass shooting.

“I grew up with school shootings,” says medical student Nefes Prizada. “I was a bit shocked, but I was grateful for the chance to learn what to do in that situation.”

“What they’re doing here is quick assessment, quick treatment. They’re doing a really good job of triage,” said Paul Wilders of the Nassau County Fire Service Academy.

The training is unique for medical students. It is one of the few such programs in the nation to rise from the ashes of 9/11.

“We decided to bring the lessons learned to life, really things that we thought every doctor, regardless of their specialty, should know they were involved in a disaster,” says Dr. Brad Kaufman, associate professor at the Zucker School of Medicine.

“This is all about learning to be yourself in an emergency,” says Dr. David Battinelli, dean of the Zucker School of Medicine.

Students will complete their first weeks of medical school as certified EMTs because disaster is not a matter of if, but when.


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