Students Receive Disaster Preparedness Training
Dakota Digest - 02/07/2012
By Jenifer Jones
When a disaster occurs, it doesn't hurt to have a medical professional or two around. Especially if they've been taught to handle this sort of thing. And if they've attended USD's annual disaster preparedness training day, they should be in good shape.
There is a man, we'll call him Bob, who is allergic to shrimp. But uh-oh, Bob's at a barbecue where the hosts are grilling shrimp, and he's gone into anaphylactic shock. Good thing there are medical students nearby who have an EpiPen.
Okay, so Bob is really just a special kind of mannequin, and we're not really at a shrimp barbeque. We're at USD's disaster preparedness training day. It's sponsored by the USD medical school, Department of Health, and the Yankton Area Health Education Center. Cassy Youmans is the Rural Experiences for Health Professions Students program manager. She says students learn a variety of skills like psychological first aid and triage. And future doctors aren't the only ones here.
"We have ten different disciplines here today," Youmans says. "And in the event of a disaster it's not just going to be doctors and nurses that are going to be called upon, it's going to be everybody. And so I think it's so great for students for example, dental hygiene or occupational therapy, you know they may not feel that they're supposed to be here, or the need to be here but after today they're going to understand that okay, it is my responsibility to be a part of this too."
Let's say, for example, some kind of pandemic occurs, and mass immunizations are needed. Nursing instructor Helene Hegge says people in all healthcare fields have a job to do.
"I feel as though this is a great day because it gets us all in the same frame of mind and makes us realize that this situation could happen, and it will happen," Hegge says. "And how we can be prepared, and how we can all work together, how it's just not nurses that are going to be giving immunizations, and how the pharmacists, what role they can play and how we can work together has health science professionals to make it be effective."
Today everyone is learning the same role: how to give immunizations.
Ryan Garrets and Jared Velgersdyke are two first year med students who are now prepared to give mass immunizations.
"It went great, I didn't have any problems," Garrets says. "This was my first injection. It's kind of expected especially being a medical student. I'm sure this won't be my last, that's for sure."
"This guy's a pro, I'd get a shot from him any time," Velgersdyke says.
Protecting against a pandemic may sound like something that only happens in the movies. But Doctor Matthew Owens says it wasn't that long ago that students needed to put these skills into practice.
"During the H1N1, I think that was that was about three years ago, I had a student that had gone to this training on rotation with me up in Redfield," Owens says. "And when we went to do our big vaccination for the H1N1 when the stockpile was made available she was able to go to that POD and directly assist and work with the staff and was definitely and asset."
POD stands for point of dispensing. It's where students who are trained to handle disasters and signed up to volunteer through Serve SD go and act as force extenders. That frees up other medical professionals to do other things that need to be done.
"South Dakota, to my knowledge is the only state in the nation that trains students to be deployed," Owens says. "And if these students sign up with SD Serve, which is our early registration of volunteer health professionals, they'll be assigned, usually back to their home community, so they're doing good for the old hometown there, they would be able to go back and be covered by state sovereign immunity laws and be a definite asset to local communities."
To help prepare students to serve their local communities, instructors are using some special mannequins. Remember the guy from earlier who was allergic to shrimp? Clara Johnson with SIM SD introduces me to his friend, Adam, who for the purposes of today's presentation has become Eve. A facilitator using a computer helps Eve speak and react.
"She can actually have bowel sounds, lung sounds, and sometimes when she's been out drinking she does pass gas," Johnson says. "She's not always very gracious or ladylike. She has pretty real skin. You can feel her pulse."
Organizers say teaching students how to be ready for emergencies is especially important in a state like South Dakota, where in some areas doctors can be few and far between. They hope that by the end of the day, a new group of future medical professionals will gain the knowledge to help South Dakotans whether it be after a natural disaster, a flu pandemic, or at the neighborhood barbeque.
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