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This is a crime

Cars quietly pulled into the parking lot as the morning mist hovered over the serene lake illuminated
by dawn's slanted rays. In the early hours of Wednesday, August 26, 2015, PTI faculty and staff set
the scene for a disaster drill that would disrupt the tranquility of this peaceful landscape.
A getaway car underneath a tree with an innocent victim wedged under a front right tire and a
gagged hostage in the trunk.
A picnic blanket littered with a basket, plates and utensils.
A gun in the bushes.
A footprint in the sand.
As second-quarter practical nursing students arrived they lined up for their turn with Criminal Justice
instructor Shannon Wintruba who expertly fashioned all sorts of gruesome gunshot wounds and
blood spatters. (In addition to being a police officer, Wintruba is an award-winning make-up artist.)
Then Criminal Justice instructor Michael Gremba and Academic Chair Scott Domowicz positioned
the victims and explained the role each would play in the crime scene scenario.
The Scenario:
A convenience store robbery occurred nearby. The two actors hijacked a getaway car and escaped
to Raccoon Creek State Park which they crashed and abandoned the car, sprayed bystanders with

gun fire injuring many, some fatally. During the escape, one weapon was tossed into the lake and
the assailants ran off in opposite directions.
Shortly before 10:30 am Criminal Justice students and ASN students arrived for their field trip.
None of the students had been forewarned. Only when Domowicz and School of Nursing Academic
Chair Jacqueline Lever boarded the bus to explain the scenario did these students realize the crisis
that about to unfold.
As they sat wide eyed surveying the horrific scene and listening to the cries and pleas of the injured,
they quickly realized how real their PTI training would become.
This certainly gives the students a leg up on what to expect in real life. When I got out of my car I
heard someone screaming that they were dying, saidTrooper Abby Blazevich, PSP, who was on
scene to mentor the criminal justice students. So, of course, my first instinct is to run and then you
realize they are practicing. It got the heart rate going as soon as I got out of the car.
First off the bus
In their final quarter and about to sit for their NCLEX-RN licensure exam, the nursing students knew
their job was to help as many victims as possible as quickly as possible. Student nurses quickly
checked the victims, assessing each for levels of care and attention, moving past those who were
too critical to save and those without life threatening injuries. Each victim was tagged red, green,
yellow or black. Red, green and yellow meant a trip to triage. Black meant the victim remained in
place at the crime scene.
Our role was to assist the nursing students with the triage of the scene which is the process of
assessing the patients based on their injuries and the acuteness of those injuries, explained Bill
Pasquale, Director of Operations, Med Rescue Ambulance Service.
Next off the bus

Second-year criminal justice students worked in groups. Some secured the scene and assigned
responsibilities: collect evidence, photograph the scene, interview victims and witnesses. It was
important that no detail be left uncovered while the crime scene was preserved in its original state.
A long line of uniformed students stretched from one end of the scene to the other, as the incident
commander yelled commands. Step by step they surveyed the scene inch by inch uncovering bits of
evidence. A cast was made of the footprint in the sand. The gun was uncovered in the bushes. The
getaway car was dusted for fingerprints.
All the while the practical nursing students took their roles as victims very seriously, screaming in
pain, pleading for help, or lying motionless atop a picnic table.
So now the students understand what is involved in police work, how important it is to preserve that
scene, how important it is to collect that evidence, how important it is for the nursing students to
make sure they are attending to people who are in pain, said Trooper Robin Mungo, PSP. You
want to run to all of them, but you have to treat those who are most critical first before you move to
the next one.

As the student nurses cared for patients and student

officers secured the crime scene, they benefited from
professional mentors who observed their actions and
decisions. Without providing instructions, they would
coach students, suggest alternative courses of actions,
and demonstrate techniques. The mentors moved
alongside the students watching them collect evidence,
interview witnesses, and triage patients so they could
share personal experiences and insights only
experienced professionals possess.
These agencies and departments participated in the drill:
Pennsylvania State Police, Pennsylvania Department of
Conversation and Natural Resources, Pennsylvania
Game Commission, Salvation Army, Giant Eagle Loss
Prevention, Beaver County District Attorneys Office,
Beaver County Coroner, Beaver County Homicide, and
Beaver County EMS.
At the end of the drill the students and the professionals gathered to debrief. Emergency services
professionals and police officers complimented the students for their quick response and methodical,
instinctive approach to the scene.
Having been on crime scenes before it was very much to what we would find in the real world, said
Trooper Blazovich said, Its great for them to see what we go through on a daily basis. It was very
Trooper Mungo concurred. There are a lot of things that made it extremely realistic and I think the
students took a lot away from this. They are going to think twice when they see something on TV.
Now they are going to say It really doesnt work that way. This was really a powerful day for all of
Pasquale said what many of the professionals also shared. It was a nice experience for me, too.
This is what the students had to say.

Caitlyn Williams, Criminal Justice student

It felt real. I was afraid I wouldnt remember what I was supposed to do. When we started
processing the scene I got over it. It was really cool actually. My teacher said youre going to see
some gruesome things in the real world, but youre going to have to hold yourself together. And
when I looked at things today I started to tear up. I thought about my nephews, but I held it together.
As my teacher has taught me, Dont cry on the crime scene. Save it for home.
Chris Maltman, Criminal Justice student
Trooper Arrington was the one who helped our group. He would follow us to make sure we were
processing the scene correctly. Our teachers were a big help. Since we first started theyve told us
we need to control our emotions. Stay calm, get the job done correctly the first time. Today, I was
able to control my emotions and stay calm under the pressure.
Charnelle Headen, Practical Nursing student
It was a crazy experience. We played a role as a victim either shot or grazed or killed. Definitely
prepares us for what I am about to get into in nursing. I learned that being a nurse is a serious job,
always having to be prepared for anything, just not knowing what could happen any second in your
job. So you have to be prepared, be ready and react fast.
Erica Dunlap, Practical Nursing student
I learned to keep calm in a trauma situation. Try to relax and stay in control. This was a good
experience. This could happen in real life. You could be at the grocery store so you always have to
be prepared.
Amanda Damico, ASN student
We learned how fast and how crazy a situation can get. When I first walked on, it was a shock.
Then, once we started moving around to all the different people, it was easier to handle. With
everyone screaming and yelling, it was intense.
Lydia Durrett, ASN student
This really helped. You really needed to critical think and, thats a big part of your job as a nurse
thinking on your feet. Nursing isnt just black and white and youre going to get situations that are
unexpected and you need to know how to handle them.
Watch the video

More pictures here.