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Disaster drill provides opportunity for interprofessional education

Nursing students from the University of Saint Francis Crown Point and the Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Crown Point Emergency Medical Services Academy participate in the first collaborative disaster drill Sept. 20. Students responded to a simulated four-car accident staged in the university parking lot where they removed victims from vehicles and transported them to an “emergency room” inside the university, where their injuries were assessed and treated. (Erin Ciszczon photo)


By Steve Euvino
Northwest Indiana Catholic

CROWN POINT – How do medical professionals respond to a multi-vehicle accident involving injuries, some critical? That was the challenge when nursing students from the University of Saint Francis Crown Point and students from the Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Crown Point Emergency Medical Services Academy teamed up on a disaster drill Sept. 20 in the university parking lot.

The first-time drill between the two educational facilities involved 50 students responding to a simulated four-car accident. Students removed victims from vehicles and transported them to an "emergency room" inside USFCP, where injuries were assessed and treated. Instructors monitored students' responses for an evaluation later.

Dr. Marsha King, dean and assistant professor at the USF Crown Point campus, said the drill was an opportunity for interprofessional education, with "different students learning and working together collaboratively."

This approach, a fairly new concept, said King, "lays the groundwork for improved communication as professionals," resulting in "better patient outcome and safety."

Rob Dowling, director of the EMS academy annually holds a mass casualty drill with his paramedic and emergency medical technician students. When approached by the university about involving nursing students, Dowling said, "the idea of a multidisciplinary drill was born."

As Dowling explained, medical personnel develop a working relationship through interaction in the emergency department. "Nurses and paramedics (who) are new to the field must take a great deal of time to understand each other's scope of practice, lingo, etc.," Dowling said. "The goal of the drill was to begin that relationship much earlier while those individuals are still in school."

Working in teams in the field, paramedic and nursing students assessed each patient's situation. Taking the drill one step further, post-triage patients were brought into a makeshift emergency department inside the university. Patients were again triaged in the USFCP lobby and sent to green, yellow, or red areas, depending on the severity their condition.

Also assisting in the drill were fire units from St. John and Hebron and a University of Chicago helicopter, landing on-site to simulate transporting patients.

The drill lasted 90 minutes and was followed by debriefing. Instructors reviewed areas that went well and areas to be improved.

Overall, King said, students did "great – we all feel they did an excellent job." Plans are now underway for a disaster drill in 2015.

One day prior to the Crown Point drill, Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Michigan City hosted a disaster drill. The multi-agency drill involved a helicopter crash-landing onto the hospital's helipad, causing a fuel leak and forcing evacuation.

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