CCAC Respiratory Therapy students serve as mock victims in hospital disaster drill

CCAC Respiratory Therapy student in disaster drill
Article by: CCAC Public Relations

PITTSBURGH—Approximately 20 Respiratory Therapy students from the Community College of Allegheny County served as mock victims for a disaster drill sponsored by the Emergency Medicine Department at UPMC Mercy Hospital. The students were made up to look like victims of a mass shooting—from those with minor injuries, to life threatening wounds, to fatalities. When the ambulances began arriving at the ER on Friday, June 15, the hospital staff, which had no prior warning, jumped into action and performed triage as if it were the real thing.

“The students loved it,” said Richard Laurent, program coordinator of CCAC Respiratory Therapy and department chair of Allied Health“They liked the excitement and being able to help out with this important training.”

This was the third year in a row that students from CCAC’s Respiratory Therapy program spent their day off to participate in the disaster drill at the request of Mercy Hospital. Including orientation and make-up, the students volunteered from 7:00 a.m. to about 12:00 p.m. Laurent emphasizes the importance of service in the program, and the students get several opportunities to volunteer. In November, they participated in National COPD Day at six Allegheny Health Network (AHN) hospitals where they assisted with providing education and screenings.

The Respiratory Therapy Associate of Science program at CCAC Allegheny Campus consistently boasts a 100 percent placement rate, according to Laurent. All 16 students who graduated in May were hired prior to graduation and are now working in the field. Clinical internships occur in Pittsburgh’s world class medical centers where many graduates are employed.

“There is a great demand for respiratory therapists,” said Laurent, who graduated with the first cohort of the CCAC Respiratory Therapy program in the 1970s. “Right now, they can almost pick their place of employment. The fact we have such a great medical community here is an asset to the program.”

CCAC offers a Respiratory Therapy day program that starts in the fall, as well as an evening and weekend program for nontraditional students that begins in May, with open enrollment all year. The evening program recruits a lot of individuals who have a degree in another field but who are underemployed or are looking for a career change.

To learn more about CCAC’s Respiratory Therapy program, visit

Photo: CCAC Respiratory Therapy student Adam Coffman is a mock shooting victim in a disaster drill held at UPMC Mercy Hospital.

Related Stories