Education

Texas A&M Health Science Center conducts mock disaster, trains students for emergency response

Future health care professionals gain valuable experience while dealing with a mock emergency

Texas A&M Health Science Center conducts mock disaster, trains students for emergency response

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The Texas A&M Health Science Center today conducted Disaster Day—an annual mass casualty disaster training exercise—designed to give future health care professionals experience working together in an emergency setting. The event, now in its ninth year, is one of the largest disaster simulations in the country.

The one-day event is carefully planned and executed by students and faculty within the Texas A&M College of Nursing and provides students with the knowledge and skills necessary to respond in mass emergency situations. Each year, a new scenario is chosen to push students to test their emergency response skills outside the classroom. The scenario is kept secret until the day of the event in order to provide a more realistic simulation. This year, the students participated in a mock train derailment response with mass injuries resulting from a festival held in downtown Bryan.

More than 500 community members playing the role of patient actors were painted with makeup to portray survivors with varying degrees of injuries from gaping wounds to compound fractures. These volunteers helped create a realistic, emotional scenario for students by mimicking panicked patients—complete with screaming, crying and pleading for help. More than 250 students from the Texas A&M Colleges of Nursing and Medicine, Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy and School of Public Health participated.

The interdisciplinary nature of the event provides health professions students the opportunity to practice working together across medical specialties to develop appropriate role expectations, respect and teamwork. This year also included the Brazos County Regional Advisory Council’s mobile medical unit to provide additional real-life and real-time experiences.

Disaster Day is uniquely representative of the Texas A&M Health Science Center’s simulation and team-sport approaches to education. By tasking students from multiple medical disciplines to respond simultaneously, as a team, students enhance and expand their medical knowledge and cooperative techniques for treating patients.

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