Last week, junior nursing students at Concordia participated in a full-scale disaster simulation. The exercise was meant to equip students to respond in a swift, competent, and cooperative manner should a real scenario arise.

*Content warning: This post contains images that may appear graphic. Please note that these are simulated wounds and scenarios.

Under the direction of CUW Nursing Simulation Lab Coordinator Tina Gaffney, MSN, RN, about 12 students participated in the first of two days of a disaster simulation on Friday, Nov. 3.

A handful of faculty members and former students served as actors during the drill in order to more fully simulate the emotions that could be present at a disaster scene. The exercise presented students with a scenario involving a chemical explosion in a researcher’s laboratory. Students needed to appropriately triage the situation and respond to the needs presented.

At the conclusion of the disaster simulation exercise, students debriefed the experience. Beyond the emotional component of care, students must learn essential critical thinking skills under, sometimes, high-stakes conditions.

“Prevention and preparedness are essential parts of our students’ training,” said Gaffney. “Students need to practice these skills, ideally before a human life is at stake. By design, simulation exercises help students experience learning in a way that attempts to closely mimic what they could face someday.”

Students in the nursing program at CUW begin simulation practice in their sophomore year. Skills practice and clinical placements are also added in year two. Simulation exercises cover areas such as:

  • End-of-life procedures
  • Medication administration
  • IV, tracheostomy care, and suctioning
  • Poverty care/navigating the health care system
  • CODE scenarios

Disaster simulation scenes

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