Simulated Disaster Prepares GMercyU Nursing Students for Real-Life Scenarios

December 1, 2016
GMercyU BSN students participate in simulated disaster

Overturned tables, injured victims and a sounding alarm set the scene in Maguire Hall on Wednesday, Nov. 30. After a few minutes, Gwynedd Mercy University students in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program started streaming in, taking in the scene of shattered glass and horrific injuries and preparing to treat the victims.

It had all the makings of a real-life disaster, but it wasn’t.

The chaotic scene was actually carefully crafted with fake Halloween blood, cereal to mimic the sound of glass crunching beneath students’ shoes, and fake limbs borrowed from the Frances M. Maguire School of Nursing and Health Professions.

The program’s first-ever explosion simulation was set up by Professors Patricia Brown-O’Hara and Teresa Lewis, who wanted to simulate a disaster to give their students the opportunity to experience real-life scenarios before they enter their careers.

“While this drill may not anticipate every possible scenario, it gives our nursing students an idea of how to behave during a disaster. If students do not get an opportunity to practice, then they will not be prepared when a real disaster happens,” Professor Brown O’Hara said.

Some students from the class were selected to play the victims, while others worked in the room where the “explosion” occurred doing triage work. More students waited in the nursing-lab-turned-emergency-room.

At the end of the scenario, the students participated in a de-briefing session, where they discussed steps needed to remediate any of their actions and responses.

“The de-briefing is as important as the drill as this is where students can verbalize how they thought it went and how they felt about their responses and interventions,” Professor Brown O’Hara said.

The students gained valuable experience that they will be able to put to use in the hospitals, doctor’s offices and schools in which they work for years to come.