Florida Atlantic University medical students prepare for coronavirus during emergency drill

Posted at 10:31 AM, Mar 03, 2020

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. — Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.

That was the theme on Tuesday as medical students from Florida Atlantic University took part in an intense, realistic drill to prepare for a surge of coronavirus patients at one time.

"Doing it hands on, it really is the best training," said Daniel Parks, a third year emergency medicine physician resident at FAU's Schmidt College of Medicine.


The drill, which took place at a warehouse in Coconut Creek, involved mock cruise ship passengers who were exposed to coronavirus.

The patients, played by actors, sprinted off a bus screaming and panicked. The FAU medical students, wearing HAZMAT suits, then had to calmly screen and assess each patient to determine their level of sickness.

"Essentially, what they looked like clinically, just by eyeballing them, their age," said Parks. "If they were laying on the ground, those patients definitely were sicker than those that were talking and walking."

The medical students then triaged and organized the patients into three groups: RED for life-threatening and immediate medical needs, YELLOW for less severe symptoms, then GREEN for mild symptoms.

Local nurses and paramedics joined FAU’s medical school in the exercise, which was set in motion about two weeks ago.

"We think that the level and number of cases is going to increase over the course of time. It's hard to predict how severe it will be, but it's important to prepare for the worst and hope for the best," said Parks.

On Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said a third person with a presumptive case of coronavirus is now under isolation in Florida.