Teen-agers Carol Jarecki, Mary Carol Ridder and Amy Lawrence lay writhing in the dirt beside a high rise in Northern Virginia that had just collapsed.
Near them, their friend Susan Weiss lay in a Dempsey Dumpster as she squeezed red liquid over her knee.
The four students at Alexandria's Stephen Foster Elementary School and more than 250 other "victims" in a staged drill moaned to each other and peeked through their bandages to see if anyone was looking.
"This is a kind of neat," Ridder, 12, said as she watched more than a dozen ambulances zoom in and out of the building site at 6300 Stevenson Ave. in the Landmark area of Alexandria.
The disaster drill was staged last week by the Alexandria Emergency Medical Services agency and neighboring jurisdictions to see how well each was prepared to handle a major disaster. of the "victims" were teenage volunteers from Northern Virginia schools and service organizations.
"There are still some bugs to be worked out, but I think overall we did very well," said Gerald L. Fair, director of Alexandria's emergency medical services.
Those bugs included difficulties in communications between ambulances, poor traffic flow at the site and the fact that some ambulance drivers did not know how to get to some area hospitals, according to Fair and others.
Under the scenario worked out with Hollywood-like precision, a 13-story high rise under construction "collapsed" at 8:08 a.m. Saturday, trapping more than 250 people inside.
Within minutes 14 ambulances, 15 pieces of fire equipment, two helicopters and more than 250 paramedics began coverging on the scene to take the "victims" to 10 area hospitals.
Carmen Jacobs, 18, a first-year nursing student at Alexandria Hospital, was "trapped" on the building's ninth floor, knocked unconscious with head injuries. A label describing her injuries was wrapped around her by a fireman within 15 minutes of the disaster she said.
The lifelike medical makeup for Jacobs and other victims was provided by the Army's 85th Medical Battalion, Stationed at Fort Meade. It included sticks seemingly impaled in stomachs, glass seemingly embedded in cheeks and legs disguised to look as if they had been amputated. An estimated 20 people would have died in the incident, if if had been real, officials said. 2
Nearly all the victims were taken to hospitals within four hours of the collapse with the most seriously injured being sent first, Fair said.