BRYAN, Texas, Feb. 16, 2018 — The Texas A&M University Health Science Center today conducted Disaster Day, the nation’s largest student-led, interprofessional emergency response simulation. Now in its 10th year, the event is designed to give future health care and public health professionals experience working together in a disaster scenario.
The one-day event, which is carefully planned and executed by Texas A&M Health Science Center students, with oversight from a faculty steering committee, provides students with critical life-saving skills required in disaster situations. Not only are participants better prepared to respond in real-life emergencies, but they also learn vital skills to practice collaboratively. This is the first year the event was held at Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service’s (TEEX) Brayton Fire Training Field and Disaster City, a 52-acre mock city that serves as a training facility for our nation’s emergency responders.
A new scenario is selected each year and kept secret until event day to provide the realism of an unexpected situation. This year’s event simulated a train derailment where more than 650 students from the Texas A&M College of Medicine, College of Nursing, Rangel College of Pharmacy, School of Public Health and the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences engaged in triage at the wreckage site, patient care at a mock field hospital and disaster management at Disaster City’s Emergency Operations Training Center.
Mass injuries were depicted, with volunteers in makeup portraying victims with various degrees of wounds, from cuts to compound fractures. The volunteers mimicked panicked patients as they screamed, cried and pleaded for help. At the end of each exercise, instructors and other observers critiqued student teams on their strategy and communication to help improve their skills for a real-life disaster.
“Disaster Day is a hallmark of interprofessional education, where students from various fields combine their expertise for effective management of an emergency situation,” said Carrie L. Byington, MD, dean of the Texas A&M College of Medicine, senior vice president of the Texas A&M University Health Science Center and vice chancellor for health services at The Texas A&M University System. “We are proud to partner with TEEX to provide an exceptional opportunity for our students to learn together at a world-class facility where emergency responders from across the globe come to train. We have seen firsthand the value of Disaster Day during the state’s recent response to Hurricane Harvey, where many of our students were called upon as first responders.”
During the simulation, students either act as health care providers or emergency management officials. As each team is interprofessional, students can gain a greater perspective on how different health professions collaborate. The Health Science Center’s Office of Interprofessional Education & Research oversees the production of Disaster Day, as its function is to support collaboration across health disciplines.
“Interprofessional education occurs when students from two or more professions learn with, from and about each other to improve collaboration and the quality of care,” said Christine Kaunas, MPH, executive director of interprofessional education and research. “When students in nursing work alongside those in medicine, public health and pharmacy, they directly see the value that each discipline is bringing to the table. We see that team-based, emergency management training provides for better and safer health outcomes.”
“This is a unique opportunity for students to gain firsthand experience in emergency management, conducting duties that are usually entrusted to health care and emergency officials,” Kaunas added. “With interprofessional collaboration, hundreds of students understand how they can conduct disaster recovery when lives are at stake, while building critical thinking and teamwork abilities.”
About Texas A&M University Health Science Center
Texas A&M University Health Science Center is transforming health through innovative research, education and service in dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, public health and medical sciences. As an independent state agency and academic unit of Texas A&M University, the health science center serves the state through campuses in Bryan-College Station, Dallas, Temple, Houston, Round Rock, Kingsville, Corpus Christi and McAllen. Learn more at vitalrecord.tamhsc.edu or follow @TAMHSC on Twitter.