James Madison University

JMU Nursing Students Participate in Mock Disaster Drill

PHOTO: Mock Disaster Drill

During the fall 2010 semester, forty JMU nursing students played a significant role in a local disaster drill at Winchester Medical Center in Winchester, Virginia. Disaster preparedness events are held to test the preparedness and responsiveness of the hospital staff to deal with a surge of patients, an onslaught of concerned family members and resulting media inquiries. The scenario for this mock drill was a bus accident involving multiple casualties. Students were assigned to various roles including injured patients, concerned family members and the media. "Victims" were made up to have realistic injuries and were given scenarios to role play. Participants were transported to the ED and a triage team of physicians and nurses in the hospital's emergency department assessed each "victim." Colleen Morse, a junior 1 at the time, stated "While being pulled around on a stretcher was both novel and a little exciting for me, I imagined how frightening it might be for an actual trauma patient. An actual patient might have the same difficulty discerning their location, as well as the location of loved ones who might have been in the same accident." These students were either participating through a nursing elective titled "Disaster Nursing" or were participating as a community service project through the JMU Nursing Student Association. One student (Jonathan Whitman, junior 1 at the time) stated, "I had a lot of fun getting the makeup on and interacting with the other "victims" and playing my role within the hospital, so for me it was a great event and I'm glad I got to participate in it."