Mock emergency simulation a fantastic disaster

October 19, 2016


By Nina Mastandrea

The May School of Nursing and Health Sciences held its first mock disaster simulation Wednesday, October 12. The simulation took place in the rear parking lot of the May School of Nursing and Health Sciences building. Both nursing and emergency medical services and management students were made aware of the situation only moments before being asked to spring into action. 

8:45 a.m.

Backstage in Hayes Auditorium, performing arts students buzzed with excitement, prepared with professional-level precision and blood.

It wasn’t a play they were getting ready for—it would be for something much different.

Within the hour, a large explosion would go off behind the May School of Nursing and Health Sciences across the road, bodies would be scattered around the cool parking lot and both the school’s nursing and emergency medical services and management students would have to figure out what to do.

The students smeared bottles of red liquid on their arms, legs and tattered clothes—passing it around when someone called, “I need blood!”

Some sat patiently in chairs as their peers glued prosthetic gashes, compound fractures and various abrasions on their shins, forearms and collarbones.

A few students leaned closely to the mirror, burning the tips of corks before rubbing the warm ends on their glasses and face. 


10 a.m.

The same students, typically found at the front of the auditorium flooded with lights, found another stage in the parking lot.

Some laid face down—some face up—a few leaned against the beige curb and one unfortunate soul, who was tossed into the woods, sat leaned against a tree half-buried in leaves.

A handful of students were given the command to play dead, some half-dead and a few with only minor scrapes and burns—but the nursing and EMSM students would have to practice their triage skills to determine that.

Only moments later, unsure but focused nursing and EMSM students emerged from the building and into the parking lot.

Senior nursing student Thelma Barraza was one of those students and quickly began checking the status of some of the victims.

“You only have about 30 seconds to decide what you need to do, so you need to think fast,” she said.

Students were then told to transport those as living back into the mock ER room on the second floor. 


10:20 a.m.

The first victim was strapped to a bright orange backboard and carried both hurriedly and cautiously through the doors, into the elevator and into the ER.

Work began immediately to clean and bandage wounds, administer pain medication and clinically manage any injuries the victims received.

Several more victims were carried into the room either by backboard, wheel chair or by the support of two or more nursing students.

Some victims screamed and thrashed in their beds, demanding to know what had happened to them and their friends—nursing students practiced calming reassuring communication techniques and provided patient-centered care. 

The room still buzzing with activity, a volunteer playing the part of a concerned mother hastily rushes into the ER.

“Where is my son?” she yelled into the open room, panicked.

Almost immediately, a few students rushed to her aid, guiding her back out the doors and into the mock waiting area, offering her something to drink before explaining how her son was doing. 


11 a.m.

Dr. Laura Fero, Dean of Nursing and Health Sciences and Director of Nursing, called for the simulation to come to a close and for all students, nursing, EMSM and performing arts as well as volunteers to report to one of the lecture rooms downstairs.

There, faculty, students and volunteers reflected on the event—both the positive and the areas of improvement.

Fero said she was amazed at how progressive, confident, and resilient her senior level students were.

“Our health science programs are expertly preparing the next generation of leaders. I was also equally impressed and thankful for the level of professionalism and talent the performing arts faculty and staff possess,” she said. “Without them, this mock disaster training would not have been as impactful.”

Giovanna Bumgarner, a senior nursing student, said that the experience will help her become a better nurse.

“I’ve grown now, and I know what I need to work on,” she said. “When I relive this again I will know what to do and it will be a cycle: I will learn some new things and find the things I need to work on.”


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