Exercise and Health

UWF nursing students participate in mass casualty drill

University of West Florida Usha Kundu, MD College of Health nursing and health sciences students and faculty learned first-hand how to manage a disaster during a mass casualty drill on Oct. 21. UWF teamed up with the Santa Rosa Medical Center, Santa Rosa Emergency Management and LifeGuard to simulate a response to a mass shooting. Santa Rosa Medical Center staff planned the drill and reached out to Usha Kundu, MD College of Health staff to invite students to participate in it.

“This hands-on experience will offer our nursing and health sciences students insight into how to respond, triage and treat future patients who may come from a mass casualty incident,” said Dean Bellar. “It’s important our students participate in these types of scenarios to test their responses to large-scale incidents and how they might work under an emergency situation.”

Led by Usha Kundu, MD College of Health faculty Drs. Crystal Bennett, Cynthia Smith Peters, Angela Hahn and Andrea Nelson, students received experiential training on how response efforts are organized; and the components of triage, emergency and mass casualty response. Through active participation, students served as mock patients and family members to help medical staff work through scenarios. Working alongside staff members, students experienced first-hand how medical staff respond, organize and work through systems in case of a disaster event. They also participated in a Q&A session with staff members, including the CEO, to help them learn critical information regarding disaster recovery. The Usha Kundu, MD College of Health has held these types of mock events on a small scale on campus. This drill marked the first time that UWF was involved in a large-scale event with members of the community. 

 “As one of the volunteers I was able to watch all of the medical disciplines come together to quickly assess, analyze and triage the victims of this event,” said senior public health nursing student Talia Ambrosio-Earle. “I quickly noted that communication was a key factor in the operation’s success as each medical professional ensured that each and every patient they could save was cared for. Hands on events like this really allow me to apply my nursing knowledge from the classroom into practice. I’m really appreciative to have been a part of such an informative event in the community.”

All hospital departments, including Santa Rosa Medical Center’s freestanding emergency department in Pace, participated in the exercise. The drill provided a unique opportunity for students, EMS professionals and medical professionals to work together. 

“Emergency preparedness drills help to ensure that our hospital remains ready to provide coordinated response activities in the event of an unexpected disaster,” said Justin Serrano, interim Chief Executive Officer for Santa Rosa Medical Center. “It is an opportunity to test the system and use focused observations to enhance our preparedness plans. We are truly excited to conduct this exercise with student volunteers from the University of West Florida who have all been working hard in their respective training programs to learn the skills that will enable them to care for their community at facilities like ours.” 

For more information about Usha Kundu, MD College of Health, visit uwf.edu/ukcoh.