UK HealthCare

Nursing Students Gain Experience During Mock Disaster

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 29, 2009) - Undergraduate students from the University of Kentucky College of Nursing recently participated as “victims” in a mock disaster drill held by Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program (CSEPP). The annual drill involves a scenario in which a chemical agent release has occurred at the Bluegrass Army Depot in Madison County, Kentucky.

At the University of Kentucky Albert B. Chandler Hospital, 15 student “victims” simulated breathing problems, chemical burns, cuts and hysteria. The scene encompassed the ambulance parking area and the Emergency Department. Victims were triaged outside and either sent through the decontamination (“decon”) tent or taken straight into the trauma area of the Emergency Department.

Students were prepared beforehand with “moulage” - simulated injury cosmetic material - and told what their symptoms or injuries would be so they would act appropriately for first responders.

Gia Mudd, assistant professor and coordinator of the undergraduate public health nursing course, said, “This experience provided a foundation for student understanding of public health emergency planning and disaster response, recognition of the importance of federal, state, and local coordination of efforts, and, perhaps most importantly, recognition of the unique role of nurses in a public health emergency response.” Mudd coordinated the student involvement in the exercise as part of the disaster planning and response component of this course.

Approximately 100 other UK nursing students performed similar roles at UK HealthCare Good Samaritan Hospital, Central Baptist Hospital, both locations of Saint Joseph Hospital and the Veterans Administration Hospital.

“This exercise allowed the students studying adult nursing to see firsthand how an emergency of this magnitude would be assessed and triaged in the Emergency Department," said Jennifer Cowley, undergraduate instructor in the College of Nursing.  "And their role playing gave them the unique opportunity to witness such an experience from the patient’s perspective."

CSEPP is a joint venture between the United States Army and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assist state and local governments to improve emergency planning and preparedness in communities near the eight chemical weapons storage sites in the United States (