On the eve of the COVID-19 pandemic, the nursing students at Lee University participated in a national disaster response program that uniquely prepares them for a variety of community health concerns.
Thirty-three senior nursing students and five faculty spent two days in February at the Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Al. They are the first nursing students from Tennessee to earn certification at CDP in Healthcare Emergency Response Operations and Emergency Medical Response Awareness. Only 15 schools across the country have achieved this certification for nursing students.
“Training in disaster preparedness allows us to be on the frontline and put our training to use,” said Nikki Juberian, a nursing student from Lakeville, Minnesota.
The HERO course is for emergency medical personnel and clinicians who are responsible for triage, tagging, and treatment for victims of mass casualty incidents, such as tornadoes and mass shootings. The EMRA course included an overview of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive threats, the clinical assessment for selected examples of each, along with triage, treatment, and safety.
“My favorite part was putting on the body suits and performing all of our everyday skills - wound care, IVs, injections and triage - just with huge rubber gloves, rubber boots, and a cool air suit,” said Anna Blackwell, a nursing student from Franklin, Tn.
Proper decontamination procedure was the final portion of the experiential activity to practice appropriate cleansing of the PPE (personal protective equipment) and removing each piece carefully and in the correct order to prevent self-contamination.
“The most memorable part of the training was taking part in emergency simulations while wearing PPE and working as a team with our peers,” said senior nursing student Gustavo Wilhelm. “I believe this will better equip us to deal with unforeseen circumstances in a more professional and efficient way.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security manage the CDP. It is the only hospital training facility in the nation dedicated solely to training healthcare professionals in disaster preparedness and response. The facility includes classrooms, areas for simulations and mass casualty events, an emergency operations center, an emergency department, and an isolation unit for highly infectious diseases.
The CDP instructors are highly trained emergency nurses and medical responders with extensive disaster experience. One instructor worked at the 911 disaster site in New York City.
“The CDP instructors told us they were impressed with the critical thinking abilities and skills shown by our students during these activities,” said Kathy Rose, assistant professor and chair of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at Lee. “Particularly interesting were their comments about Lee students who demonstrated compassionate care at a level the instructors had not seen previously. This is a perfect example of how we are accomplishing our mission of preparing nurses who are bold and transformational in an increasingly complex and changing world.”
For more information about the Center for Domestic Preparedness, visit https://cdp.dhs.gov/
For more information about Lee’s School of Nursing, visit http://www.leeuniversity.edu/academics/nursing/