Disaster Simulation for Senior Nursing Students

June 27, 2023 – Our interprofessional education (IPE) simulation center team held an all-day disaster simulation event at Calamityville in Fairborn, Ohio. Calamityville is a training center on 50 acres that is meant solely to prepare emergency responders for disasters. This is the first year the event was held there, and students and faculty agree it was impactful.

This year’s disaster simulations for senior Nursing students emulated an explosion and then a building collapse. The day started by applying makeup to students who were acting as the first round of victims. The injuries portrayed things such as head trauma, bleeding, and severed limbs. The severity of these injuries showed the Nursing team who was in the most need of attention.

Phil Smith, IPE sim lab coordinator, is a paramedic by training and is not new to having be prepared and able to think clearly in an emergency. During the training, senior Nursing students find the mock victims and assess their injuries, making the challenging decision of determining who needs care most. Phil says, “This gives them an exposure into how things operate in a mass casualty when resources are stretched to the limit. It gives them an appreciation on how we have to prioritize patients in an event like this.”

Bev McClean, IPE simulation center Nursing coordinator, points out, “The event helps offer an understanding of what happens in a disaster response. Although nurses might not be at the scene of a disaster as a first responder, this gives them insight on what happens to a patient before they arrive to a hospital during a disaster.”

Deb Warren, Nursing assistant professor, says the event encourages critical thinking skills. She says, “This gives them the confidence to test their knowledge in the real world. It prepares them by giving them a foundation. We can only prepare them for so much, but this gives them an idea of how to think on their feet and prioritize.”

After all students had a turn to be both victims and responders, they gathered for a recap to share what they learned. They agreed the day was stressful, eye-opening, and fun. Student Paris Bauman says, “I learned to have solid communication and the importance of following a chain of command because things get chaotic very quickly if you don’t have that in place.”

Student Thad Walker admits he wasn’t sure what to expect going into the day. He says, “It taught me how to better handle the stress and prepare for it by keeping things under control mentally.” Student Gracie Garno says her main takeaway was that although it feels so stressful and overwhelming, there is always an order in an emergency situation. She says, “It’s vital for the team to assess and figure out who needs to be seen first.”


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