I am a graduate student in the math department at Minnesota State University. I am also a veteran with significant experience in participating and coordinating scenario-based training.
The emergency preparedness training exercise last week was a theatrical disappointment. As a spectator, the exercise appeared to simulate a mass casualty drill, but you wouldn't have known that based on the behavior of the participants.
It is important to keep a cool head in a stressful situation. But if people are laying on the ground with serious injuries (fictitious injuries in this case), then participants should be moving with a sense of urgency.
The conditions presented in this scenario appeared to be overly controlled and idealized.
It looked like the scenario didn't even try to raise the stress level of the participants. I think training for a stressful situation should involve introducing variables designed to simulate stress.
All of the victims were placed out in the open in plain view, this made communication between response teams and leadership quite simple. Obstructing this line of sight would raise the level of difficulty while adding a flavor of realism.
The purpose of a training exercise like this is to simulate the difficulties presented in a specific environment, but other than being on university property, there was nothing university specific about this scenario.
Was this actually meant as training for first responders? Maybe it was an attempt by the university and the city of Mankato to convince the public they are prepared for such a catastrophic event.
It looked like they only went through the scenario once and then wrapped up.
I went to the theater departments production of Macbeth last spring. I was riveted through the whole performance. And so it seems disrespectful, on the lawn of our fantastic performing arts center, that this serious exercise gave such an unconvincing performance.