Preparing for the Worst: Averett Nursing Students Learn from Disaster Situation

Posted on April 18th, 2018 by Cassie Jones

More than 100 people from five organizations partnered to help better prepare Averett’s nursing students for their future nursing careers.

Averett University’s School of Nursing hosted a disaster simulation this morning at Averett’s Riverview Campus, working closely with SOVAH Health – Danville, Danville Fire Department, Danville Life Saving Crew (DLSC) and Danville Police Department to provide a first-hand educational experience for nursing students in emergency care during a disaster situation.

“Our accrediting body requires us to teach our students how to manage disasters, and so we thought this would be a great simulation,” said Dr. Pamela Giles, dean of the Averett School of Nursing. “The research shows that when students have an opportunity to practice hands-on, that what they learn sticks with them longer and makes them probably better prepared when they go out and practice.”

The exercise began with an active shooter scenario, facilitated through SOVAH-Health’s emergency management team. Students were able to see how the various responding agencies would work together and handle this sort of situation. Twenty-five nursing students participated, with sophomores playing the “victims,” juniors handling the initial triage and treatment of the patients, and seniors working in hospital emergency room replica.

Even members of Averett’s Theatre department got involved, applying moulage – mock injuries created through makeup for emergency training purposes – to the “victims” to create a more realistic appearance for the nursing students to assess and treat.

The exercise, though, not only helped the students. Many of the participating agencies found it helpful for working out some of their internal processes and how they would collaborate in a situation like this.

“I’m glad we had the opportunity to participate with Averett and the other agencies,” said Steve Dishman, assistant chief of the Danville Fire Department. “While this is not as much of a training for us, it is more of a work-through of how all these pieces fit together – how we put all of our roles together for this type of response. The students really seemed to have some fun with the exercise and I think really learned something. It was successful in many ways.”

“I think DLSC, Danville Fire Department and Danville Police Department worked extremely well together, said Bryan Fox, assistant executive director of DLSC. “Averett University also did an excellent job planning this scenario and everything came together seamlessly. The nursing students, wounded actors and hospital station helped make the scenario seem realistic.”

DLSC identified some radio communications issues within the building, and already have a plan to address it. Danville Police learned from this, as well, as this exercise exposed some of their new recruits to their first disaster simulation of this nature.

“We are so grateful to our partnering agencies for all they’ve done, from the months’-worth of planning leading up to this, through today and the evaluation we’ll conduct beyond,” said Giles. “We truly couldn’t have done this without them.”

Perhaps the most important take-away from all of this was the unforgettable learning experience the nursing students gained from this sort of real-life practice.

“This is the first time we’ve been able to treat more acute problems like a tibia-fibula fracture or an open skull fracture, said Mackenzie Hastings, senior nursing student who worked in the hospital tent. “It was really nice to see all the teams come together, apply all of the three years of knowledge that we’ve gathered and really come together as a community, and show everybody that we are ready.”