SHSU disaster simulation yields preparedness

The fourth floor of the The Woodlands Center was transformed Friday into an emergency preparedness drill for Sam Houston State University nursing, athletic training and criminal justice students.

Once a semester, the School of Nursing puts together an event to help train its students in conjunction with other departments including Athletic Training, Criminal Justice and the SHSU Police Department.

“We plan almost year round for these events,” Clinical Assistant Professor of Nursing Linda James said. “Sometimes we run an army-style lane training; sometimes we run emergency preparedness drills.”

Students arrived as early as 7:30 a.m. and had a presentation from Director of Emergency Preparedness and Safety David Yebra. According to senior Nursing major Sheli Cryer, Yebra talked about and even showed examples of mass shootings. The simulation began shortly after and was run through twice with two different groups of students before a debriefing at the end.

These events take a lot of planning and a lot of cooperation from multiple sources.

“That’s called inter-professional education,” Assistant Professor for Athletic Training Mary Williams said. “It’s a big point of emphasis for all healthcare in the United States and beyond. The benefit is that [the students] not only get emergency preparedness training, but they learn about each other’s professions and what their scope of practice is.”

Clinical Assistant Nursing Professor and RN to BSN coordinator Pam Slagle emphasized the ideal of interdisciplinary cooperation and the values of communication associated with the event.

“They have to learn how to work as teams,” Slagle said. “It’s not just nurses you depend on. It’s still about learning how to work with other people in a team environment.”

They are not always easy to plan or inexpensive to execute, but the coordinators believe these simulations are mutually beneficial for students and faculty.

“When you look at the cost-benefit, the students are gaining a lot out of it,” Williams said. “The other thing is we’ve been able to present at conferences about what we’ve done and share a little bit of our research findings.”

According to James, this year’s simulation cost around $200. They were able to keep the cost low because their supply cost was minimal and they were able to utilize The Woodlands Center for the drill. Financial concerns have arisen in the past, however, and money plays a major role in these events.

“There’s a cost factor,” James said. “There’s the expense of dressing supplies. People are out there for eight hours. We have volunteers that come from Student Nursing Association and from the Kinesiology Department, and we have to feed them. Rental for facilities, that kind of thing. We’ve scrounged, and looked for donations, but that’s hard.”

Approximately 55-70 students were in attendance.

“Everyone that shows up [participates], whether they’re a victim, a nurse, a tech or an observer,” Cryer said. “We have actual observers in the room watching what’s going on so they can get an outside perspective…to see and give feedback to the nurses.”

Cryer explained how important the observer roles are to the success of the simulation.

“They actually check and look to see what’s going on and the criteria that they need look for,” Cryer said. “It’s a huge dynamic that these young, new nurses are having to put these scenarios in their head.”

The Houstonian attempted to reach out to nursing students that were observers during the drill, but due to a mandatory confidentiality agreement from the School of Nursing, participants were unable to provide us with any information regarding their thoughts or experiences during the simulation.

Leave a Reply