The injuries were fake but the energy was real Wednesday when more than 25 firefighters and paramedics responded to a simulated disaster--the collapse of the Oak View Community Center.
Cardboard bodies with injury descriptions were placed around the building for firefighters and paramedics to assess, then carry on stretchers to a triage area. Six emergency medical technicians also posed as victims, holding injury descriptions and screaming in pain.
Those deemed most seriously injured--some of them cardboard, some real--were taken by helicopter to area hospitals.
Among the flesh-and-blood victims was June Weaver, labeled with severe cuts to the left leg and a collapsed lung.
After wrapping gauze around her leg, firefighters moved her on a stretcher to triage and then transported her to the hospital.
Recently certified as an EMT, Weaver has not yet faced such an emergency situation.
"I would just take it as a challenge, although I'd be scared," Weaver said. "How can you not be?"
Training is the best way to prepare emergency response teams for large-scale situations, said Glenn Garcia, Ventura County Fire Department battalion chief.
Ventura County Firefighter Barry Parker outlined the participants' strategy: "The idea is to quickly assess the patient and then move on to the next."
Officials also tried to put some unexpected obstacles--such as interrupting radio communication--in the way of paramedics and firefighters.
"We do little things," Garcia said. "They're used to our games, but the guys did really well."