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      Training Future Nurses

      On-Campus Disaster Simulation Prepares Nursing Students for Emergencies

      disaster simulation

      Disaster Simulation

      Approximately 130 nursing students participate in a disaster simulation outside University Center on Oct. 12.

      The scene outside University Center on Oct. 12 was dramatic. Dozens of people were bloody, disheveled and in need of care after a crash between a school bus and two cars.

      But, don't worry, the tragic scenario wasn't real. It only looked that way.

      The simulation was another way the Widener University School of Nursing is preparing students for real-world disasters and emergencies that can strike at any moment.

      "With so many recent natural disasters and emergencies in the United States, student nurses must be prepared at any moment," said Dawn Ferry, director of the Center for Simulation and Computerized Testing. "Some students may never see a disaster, but others may face one in their daily lives. As nurses, it's important they are prepared and know how to use their skills and training in any situation."

      Nursing students at Widener benefit from the Founders Hall simulation labs, which are designed to provide clinical experiences for nursing students starting in the spring of sophomore year.

      The disaster simulation for senior students in the fall gives them an opportunity to test their skills outside the simulation lab environment and understand the protocols in place for disaster situations. Approximately 130 seniors participated this year.

      At the start of the day, the nursing students attended a lecture. Unbeknownst to the students, the lecture was interrupted by an emergency happening outside.

      disaster simulation

      Seniors in the Widener University School of Nursing were assigned either the role of bystander, student, victim, observer or nurse.

      The nursing students – assigned either the role of bystander, student, observer or nurse – ran outside to 14th Street and found approximately 55 people with fake injuries from the crash. The victims, who were aware of the simulation and wore full make-up, lay injured on the concrete and yelled for help from inside the bus, as smoke billowed from the crash scene.

      The nurses had to assign the victims to triage units based on the severity of the injuries.

      The victims were then transported in ambulances to the hospital. Multiple agencies participated in the simulation, including the Chester Police Department, Chester Fire Department, Delaware County Mass Casualty Unit and Crozer EMS.

      Alli Donnelly, a senior nursing student, played the role of a 10-year-old child whose mother was killed in the crash. Donnelly said seeing her classmates take action made her better prepared for a future career in nursing.

      "We didn't know what the scenario would be, but we all pulled together anyways," Donnelly said. "It is really great to be part of that team effort."

      Senior nursing major Marie Smarsh agreed. She hopes to work in the emergency room or intensive care unit, making it all the more important for her to know how to respond in intense situations.

      "This gave me insight on how it would work if there was a real disaster," she said. "Everyone has to know their role and play their part, and as long as they do that, everything will be addressed."

      After the morning session, all students participated in a debriefing panel discussion with nursing professors.


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