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DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) — You can’t plan for when disaster will strike, but you can prepare for how you will react when it does happen. That’s exactly what Decatur Morgan Hospital did on Wednesday.

Hospital staff worked with nursing students from Calhoun Community College in a mass casualty exercise, with the nursing students serving as actors for the exercise.

Carrie Wynn with the Emergency Department at Decatur Morgan Hospital. She said it’s important for the hospital to do exercises like this.

“We want to test our infrastructure too, and how our IT departments and our other departments would respond to help us with communications,” Wynn said.

Wynn also said they can see how staff will respond, which will help them “build our education and our planning off of that.”

She said the emergency department frequently deals with “traumas and influxes of patients”, but that a mass casualty scenario brings “numerous patients coming in, in a short period of time.”

Wynn said having the students from CCC stand in gives the feeling of chaos that staff would see in a real emergency situation. “It’s kind of overwhelming, and you get more of the sense of what it feels like when all of these people are coming into your hospital,” she said.

The mass casualty scenario isn’t just limited to the ER. The test also involves testing the systems’ infrastructure.

She also said they picked April to do this year’s test, because on average, Alabama sees the most tornadoes in April.

“It’s just a really good time to remind everybody that something could happen” Wynn said. “Of course it could be a tornado, or it could be an explosion at a plant.”