October 20, 2018

PORTSMOUTH — Thirty senior nursing students from Great Bay Community College each played the role of “victim” in a mass casualty drill Oct. 16 at the Edgewood Center.

The exercise involved a simulation of a collapsed ceiling in the basement of the care facility that specializes in providing rehab, skilled nursing and long-term care.

The activity was organized by Grant Turpin, director of emergency management and EMS at Portsmouth Regional Hospital, who coordinated a planned response by Seacoast EMS units from seven local departments. In addition to broadening the GBCC student experience, the drill also served to benefit first-responders and the Edgewood Center, allowing them to test internal response to a disaster and their coordination with community based entities and Edgewood Center employees.

To create a realistic setting, the drill area was set to replicate a disaster zone complete with fallen debris and wreckage. Edgewood nursing staff helped to apply make-up and “blood” to the student “victims” to simulate patient wounds. Lights were turned-off to show a probable power outage. The nursing students were then each assigned a victim role to play, all requiring specific medical attention.

Individual case histories, created ahead of time, included pre-existing health conditions ranging from stroke and dementia to paraplegia. Developed by Edgewood Center staff members, Nicki Garvey from training and organizational development, Administrator Tricia Cummings and Clinical Coordinator, Stacey Whitten, the variation served to add to the complexity of the drill for both EMS and Portsmouth Regional Hospital employees.

Once the drill began, firefighters and EMS responders entered the building to assess the scene, triage the student “victims” and then transport them to the Portsmouth Regional Hospital Emergency Room where they were “diagnosed,” “treated” and transferred throughout the hospital to relevant departments. At the hospital, 16 additional GBCC nursing students also took on the role of family members of the injured, and as press, to add realism of the event.

“For our Great Bay nursing students, by participating in the entire patient experience from the scene of the disaster, to transport to hospital,” said Lorraine Mancuso, GBCC nursing professor “the activity helps to broaden their understanding of many concepts including prioritization and triage, teamwork and interagency collaboration, and communication. Students indicated that they had a new respect for the patient experience, and the role of the nurse as consoler and advocate.”

Following the event, a debriefing was held and attended by Portsmouth Regional Hospital, emergency responders, Edgewood Center and GBCC students and faculty to gather information about the effectiveness of the entire process, and plan for future systems changes to enhance the care provided to Seacoast residents.

“I believe overall it was a very good experience for us,” said student Leigh Anne Crowley. “I enjoyed hearing the firefighters and EMS team communicate, problem solve, and work together to figure out who was the most important Patient.

“This interactive drill showed us what it’s like to be on ’the other side,” said student Daniel Brownell. “Being treated as patients, and not providing care. You hope a mass casualty event never happens, but participating in events like this helps us as healthcare providers to be as prepared as we can, and learn to be adaptable and flexible with our nursing assessments and practice.”

Original Story: Seacoastonline – http://www.seacoastonline.com/news/20181020/gbcc-nursing-students-participate-in-mass-casualty-drill