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Nursing Students Participate in Mass Casualty Disaster Exercise

By Mark Siemon

Student with glass shard stuck in leg.

Boise State nursing students enrolled in the Community and Population nursing course participated in a disaster day exercise on April 12 at Taco Bell Arena to increase their knowledge and skills related to disaster preparedness and response.

During the first half of the day, students worked with Kim Monson of the Greater Idaho Chapter of the American Red Cross to review the critical work that nurses do to help individuals and families during natural disasters. For example, many people are often evacuated to emergency shelters operated by the American Red Cross during disasters such as wildfires or floods.

The second part of the day focused on how nurses can help first responders in assessing and triaging large numbers of  individuals who have been injured in a natural disaster or need assistance. Students learned how to quickly determine the severity of injuries and provide simple life saving treatments. Students then used what they had learned by participating in a disaster exercise that involved a small triage team and individuals acting as injured victims of a mass casualty event.

The enacted mass casualty event included staff from Taco Bell Arena, Ada County Emergency Management, and the Boise State University Emergency Management and Continuity Planning Department as part of a scenario developed by Tim Deck, Taco Bell Arena Director of Safety and Security, that involved a large explosion and multiple victims.

Taco Bell Area staff, who had been trained in search and rescue, helped to move injured students from inside the building to a safe triage and treatment area outside of the building. Members of the student triage team then began assessing and triaging the injured students and providing basic treatment. Injured individuals were classified as minor, immediate, or delayed as part of the triage process. All of the students survived and enjoyed the experience.