GMercyU Holds Annual Disaster Simulations for Nursing Students

Every year, GMercyU hosts "disaster day" simulations to give our Bachelor of Science in Nursing students the opportunity to experience the chaos and intensity of triaging a real-life disaster.

This year's disaster was larger than ever, featuring a building collapse with 18 casualties, double the amount in past year's simulations. The casualties ranged from minor to major, including severed limbs and death. Students played the roles of nurses, victims, and first responders, with a team of nursing faculty there to coach the students.

Prior to this week's simulations, students prepared ahead of "disaster day" with a lecture on Disaster Management; the simulations offered a way to connect the dots and put what they learned into practice.

"We want students to take away how to handle themselves under extreme conditions, in a rapidly changing environment and with victims' rapidly changing vital signs and statuses," said Professor Megan Mustachio, MSN, RN, WCC, CHSE, who coordinated this year's disaster simulations.

Professor Teresa Lewis, RN, DNP, CNE and Professor Mustachio assigned the student "victims" their roles and casualties and prepared them with gory, life-like wounds. Both professors have taken classes on applying "moulage" specifically for simulations, to help them feel more real.

Similar to what may happen in real life, not all of the nurses were made immediately aware of a victim's social determinants or medical issues such as diabetes, Alzheimer's, or HIV. Nurses also had to navigate intrusive "reporters" at the scene of the disaster.

Five drills in total were held this week. After each simulation, faculty and students gathered together for a debriefing to review what went well, what could've gone more smoothly, and what our students took away from the stressful but exciting simulations.

"Ultimately, we want students to learn to think on their feet and be able to offer the greatest good for the most people," said Professor Mustachio.