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DYC Nursing Students Volunteer for Disaster Drills

Buffalo, New York – May 3, 2013 – Seventy D'Youville College nursing majors in their senior year participated as volunteers in four mass casualty exercises at four local Catholic Health hospitals. The disaster drills took place on three different dates in March 2013 at South Buffalo Mercy Hospital, Mercy Ambulatory Care Center, Kenmore Mercy Hospital and Saint Josephs Hospital.

The mass casualty scenarios involved terrorist’s bombings inside and outside a highly populated area like a shopping mall. Students were recruited to play the role of multiple victims and be alert observers in order to provide feedback during the post-exercise debriefing sessions.

The disaster or “mass casualty” drills are part of the Catholic Health ongoing Emergency Preparedness Program and guided by the New York State Department of Health. The purpose of the exercises is to evaluate current response plans and capabilities of hospitals to handle a large surge or influx of “victims” or patients. The exercises were coordinated by Lynn Sigeti, R.N. System Director Associate Safety and Health and Health Systems Safety, Inc.

Students received scripts on what injuries they suffered, and the signs and symptoms to portray. Wounds ranged from superficial abrasions and hearing loss with tinnitus to more severe head injuries with bloody ear drainage, fractured limbs, burns, and shortness of breath from smoke inhalation. Some students were additionally challenged to play the role of a patient from an at-risk population, i.e. pediatric patient, senior citizen, pregnant women, or pharmacologically dependent patient.

Students learned about the unique rules of color coded “triage” during a mass casualty exercise i.e. Red (Immediate) - needs treatment within 10 minutes, Yellow (Delayed) - injured but stable and treatment can wait up to 1 hour, Green (Minor) - “walking wounded” or minor injuries, and Black (Deceased) - or death is imminent. The purpose of mass casualty triage is to do greatest good for the greatest number of people and to maximize survival during an overwhelming event. Practicing triage skills helps bring order to real life chaos.

D'Youville students gave input during the actual drill and in the post-drill "debriefing" sessions.

"The feedback from the students was invaluable and lent credibility to their evaluations," says Ralph Estep, R.N. CIH, CSP, a Health Systems Safety consultant for Catholic Health.

"D’Youville College School of Nursing commends the students for supporting our community Emergency Preparedness efforts and looks forward to participating in future disaster exercises," says Helena Kittleson, RN, MSN, an assistant professor in the DYC School of Nursing.


Helena Kittleson, RN, MSN
Assistant Professor
D’Youville College School of Nursing