Lee nursing students learn to handle ‘emergencies’ during drill

By CHRISTY ARMSTRONG
Posted 4/15/18

After a train derailment, chemical explosion and a bleacher collapse, emergency personnel rapidly transported dozens of patients to the hospital. Any hesitation from hospital staff could mean the …

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Lee nursing students learn to handle ‘emergencies’ during drill

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After a train derailment, chemical explosion and a bleacher collapse, emergency personnel rapidly transported dozens of patients to the hospital. Any hesitation from hospital staff could mean the difference between life or death. 

This was the scenario students of Lee University’s School of Nursing faced Friday afternoon in a mass casualty drill conducted with help of local emergency responders. 

The first floor of Lee’s School of Nursing Building had been transformed into “Lee University Medical Center,” and the students had to react as EMS staffers brought in live patients played by other Lee students. 

“With an interprofessional approach, this simulated event offers students in other disciplines the opportunity to participate in a ‘real-life’ scenario guided by community professionals from the Bradley County Emergency Management Agency and Homeland Security,” said Dr. Brenda Jones, assistant professor of nursing.

The drill was designed to help students learn how to treat a large influx of patients after an emergency, addressing a variety of medical conditions. They also practiced interacting with family and survivors dealing with psychological trauma. 

The nursing students had to help triage the patients as they came in, referring them to the general emergency department, trauma center, operating room and other areas, such as a psychological first aid area.

The Bradley County EMS personnel assisting with the drill treated each scenario with urgency, placing pressure on the students to quickly triage, move and treat each patient. 

“One of the biggest things students are learning is how to deal with the stress of treating the surge of patients that you might have in a disaster,” said Jake Fast, an adviser for Lee’s Disaster and Healthcare Mission Management program. “We want them to be ready for that, should they encounter a real disaster scenario later on.” 

The students serving as nurses and other medical staff in this scenario were students enrolled in a senior-level course called “Clinical Pathways of Health Promotion & Disease Prevention Across the Continuum of Care II.” Disaster preparation is one of the topics covered in this course. 

Lee senior Brooke Groff said the drill was challenging, as students had to be ready for everything from cuts and scrapes to fatal injuries. Still, she said it was “comforting” to know she would be better prepared to treat patients at the rapid pace required by a disaster scenario. 

“I think it’s really good we’re getting to experience this,” Groff said. “We’re learning how we can handle the stress in the moment and be sure we know what to do. Ultimately, we’re doing this for the future patients we might treat.” 

This is the third time Lee’s School of Nursing has held a mass casualty drill to help prepare students for some of the situations they could encounter in their careers. 

Dr. Sara Campbell, dean of the School of Nursing, said through experiences like these, Lee is continuing to develop “a strong curricular foundation of disaster response.” 

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