Hurricane and fire seasons are upon us and a Boston-style bombing could happen at any time in any American city. Is Austin ready for an emergency?
Experts with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that disaster preparedness efforts have improved, but they could—and must—be better and are calling for more and better-trained disaster management teams.
That’s why The University of Texas at Austin Schools of Nursing and Social Work were recently preparing for the unthinkable by staging one of the largest mock disaster drills Austin has seen.
On Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, more than sixty student nurses and social workers triaged nearly 200 “wounded victims” during a recent mock disaster drill sponsored jointly by UT Austin Schools of Nursing and Social Work at the Frank Erwin Center.
Experts agree that improving disaster preparedness requires teamwork, but learning how to work in teams with other health-care providers shouldn’t begin during an actual disaster.
Students used interprofessional strategies to respond to the aftermath of a fictional disaster—a tornado hitting a local Walmart—to prepare for a real one.
“We want all of our graduates to have basic competency in disaster preparedness and emergency response,” said Whitney Thurman, RN, MSN, instructor of clinical nursing and organizer of this year’s disaster drill.
“Talking about what to do in the event of an emergency is important, but being able to actually simulate the experience and the emotions of such an event imparts a greater understanding.
“During the drill, students practiced triage and assessment skills as well as basic emergency first aid. Many students have reported being surprised at how much they learned and truly feel more prepared to respond in an appropriate and safe way should they ever need to,” Thurman added.
About the School of Nursing Disaster Preparedness Program: Recognized by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing with the 2011 Innovations in Professional Nursing Education Award, the School of Nursing’s Disaster Preparedness program ensures that faculty (experienced experienced clinical and public health nurses) and upper-level students are prepared to mobilize for triage and care of victims and evacuees, allowing hospital personnel to remain at their stations.
Job well done!