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Disaster drill held at Events Center

By : Jennie M. Orton

The Decker School of Nursing hosted its annual disaster drill with more than 150 members of the campus community participating. Nursing faculty and students, University Police, Harpur’s Ferry Ambulance service and Univeristy Environmental Health and Safety personnel worked together on Friday, May 6, to conduct a simulated disaster inside the University Events Center.

Participants created a mock field disaster giving student nurses the chance to practice emergency skills after the simulation of a partial building collapse. The collapse resulted in 50 people sustaining various levels of “injury.” Students attended to “patients” with abdomenal, head and neck injuries as well as those suffering mental trauma from the incident and even a few dead.

Laura Terriquez-Kasey, a clinical instructor in the Decker School, serves as emergency care and trauma nurse in the federal government’s Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) and was responsible for coordination of the drill.

“The objective of the drill was two-fold,” said Kasey. “Number one is to teach students the basics of triage. Number two is to have them work outside of their normal facility, to have a feel for what it’s like to receive multiple causalities and to be involved in a multiple casualty incident. This is very different than every-day nursing where you’re dealing with set patients that you have at the beginning and end of a shift. The key piece is that you want to teach people how to think on their feet. They have to be able to really look at what’s going on with the patient, evaluate the patient, do their ABCs and reassess patients getting them ready for transport or actual care,” she said. Acting as operations director during the drill was Ellen Weiss ’05, Nursing Student Association (NSA) president. Weiss was responsible for coordinating the communications between four key players who were assigned to oversee the complete scene: the incident commander, public information officer, scene liaison and safety officer.

“I think most students thought they would just see what it would be like to observe a disaster, but now that they’ve done it, they see what it’s like to actually participate in triage, transporting patients, the limited access to supplies, how to acquire supplies and how everyone has to work together,” said Weiss. “We had a set number of mock ambulances without actual transport of patients. We’re learning what you would do to call those emergency services and get the help you would need,” she said.

Chief of Harpur’s Ferry Ambulance Service, Ben Krakauer, said they had a slightly different role this year than in past years in that they did not have to provide ambulatory transport from the Decker School to the East Gym.

“This year we provided backboards and came in to consult,” said Krakauer. “I think it’s important that the nursing students get an idea of how a disaster scene works. The drill assists them in understanding the role of Emergency Medical Services during a typical disaster. Under most conditions, with the exception of large federal disasters under presidential declaration, nurses very rarely enter the pre-hospital environment unless cross-training in both emergency medical services or as an emergency room nurse or in critical care. It’s an important exercise for the Decker School of Nursing students,” he said.
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Last Updated: 10/14/08