With emergency sirens blaring, fourth semester MCC Associate Degree Nursing Program students moved into action, urgently asking, “How are you doing? Can you move?” Can you tell me what happened?
The scene, complete with ambulance transport boards and actors portraying multi-injured victims from a bus accident, was a part of an outside-the-classroom experience for these nursing students learning disaster triage. The victims’ conditions ranged from severe burns to a spinal cord injury to a heart attack to traumatic amputation.
Jeff Hemphill, ADN instructor, said this experience is essential. “You never know when a disaster will happen, and as a nurse, you may get called up to do this. A car wreck can happen in front of the hospital. You never know what you’re going to have to do,” he said.
Nurses not only need technical competencies to succeed in the job, but they also need critical thinking skills to provide safe, effective care. One way they can gain those skills is by utilizing nursing simulation scenarios such as the one conducted on Thursday. Pam Thompson, ADN instructor, said, “We talk about it (triage) in the classroom, but not until you do it, does it come together,” she said.
“It was a really good experience,” said Shawntrell Turner of York, Ala., who was one of the 17 students participating in the triage session. “Your adrenaline is rushing, even though you know they’re not hurt,” she said.
Classmate Brittany Kennedy of Heidelberg agreed. “This made it real to me,” she said, noting she wants to pursue a job in emergency room nursing.
And by being a simulation, Turner said, “it gave you as close as it gets. You may see it in real life.”
Before the exercise began, several MCC students were made up using the moulage technique creating fake wounds and injuries to look like the trauma victims suffering from burns, lacerations, fractures and other injuries. They also stayed in character throughout the disaster by screaming, crying and moaning about adding to the realism.
Situations such as the one simulated can happen anywhere – inside or outside the hospital – being prepared can be among the best medicine.