Samford University's Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing simulated a community incident April 3 to help prepare future nurses to respond in the event of a campus or community emergency. In partnership with Homewood Police and Fire, the Alabama EMA and the Birmingham Regional Emergency Management System (BREMS) the university created a situation involving multiple injuries and casualties.
Nursing students played the roles of victims as well as first responders. By responding to the emergency, senior nursing students fulfilled the objective of community triaging. Community agencies interacted with students as they would in an actual emergency and provided an opportunity for essential interdisciplinary education.
The exercise "went better than I could have hoped," said Cindy Berry, associate professor of nursing. "Our students learned more about themselves in this exercise and how they could and should respond in these situations."
Wayne Pittman, Samford's director of public safety and emergency management, echoed Berry's assessment. "It was a good training exercise for our senior nursing students to be able to respond in a simulated emergency situation. Things flow more smoothly in a crisis if you have been through this type of training, and our students, hopefully, will be better prepared."
"Nurses are often called upon to respond in a time of crisis, and it is our hope that this drill helped our students be more adequately prepared to respond quickly and effectively in emergency situations," said Jill Pence, assistant professor of nursing and coordinator of undergraduate simulation. "By collaborating with community agencies, our students are able to learn to successfully interact with their colleagues in the field," she added.
In addition to meeting the objectives of the nursing school, the drill allowed the university to assess its emergency response plans and working relationships with other agencies, Pittman said. Samford's public safety, operations and media relations offices were all involved in the drill. Representatives from the various agencies and other third parties were on hand to evaluate the students' and university's response to the situation. University and School of Nursing leadership will meet with agency partners in the near future to discuss the response and next steps.
"We build on these relationships every day," Pittman said. "When we have to respond in emergency situations, we have to call on other agencies to help us. If we don't have those relationships established before the emergency, we may not get the help that we need."
Senior nursing major Erin Gettel was a "victim" in the simulation but said she learned things she would need to do as a responder. "Because I was 'unresponsive,' they thought I wasn't a priority. I was still breathing. As nurses, we need to be more aware of our patients' needs and get them the help that they need as quickly as possible."
Berry and Pence were the lead developers of the simulation. "It is essential that our students and the University be prepared for situations such as the one simulated today," said Berry. "We are grateful to the various community agencies for helping us better equip our students and the university to respond to critical community incidents."
Katie Striping from the Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing contributed to this story.