PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- -

The Coachella Valley can rest assured that in the case of a viral catastrophe, Desert Regional Medical Center is prepared. Just ask the eighth graders from Indio Middle School's Pre-Med Academy.

More than a dozen students acted as patients with a food-borne illness, a form of E-Coli, for the 2013 Statewide Medical and Health Exercise, while emergency workers handled an over-flowing emergency room.

"These exercises are required for hospitals, but they are also extremely valuable," says Heidi Anderson, Emergency Preparedness at Desert Regional Medical Center. "They become important for us to be able to plan and respond and make sure that we are doing things that are going to be appropriate for these types of events."

Students were given cards with ages and symptoms, and nurses and doctors had to treat them accordingly.

The team can debrief the drill, and figure out what worked and what didn't in the case of a real biological danger.