Throughout the world, 255 million people are affected by massive global disasters, and 62,000 people die every year. Public health nurses are often the major source of healthcare when these disasters strike. With the unpredictability of the occurrence of disaster, preparation must be continual and up-to-date.
To keep communities safe in the time of a catastrophe, it is important that public health nurses acquire the proper training and skill sets. In order to execute the best decisions in a pressing situation, public health nurses must bring extraordinary expertise to the table. These skills include:
- Proper assessment
- Priority recognition
Unfortunately, funds have been decreasing when it comes to disaster preparedness, which results in a lesser opportunity for the practice of disaster preparedness drills. According to the Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, “With reductions in preparedness funding, there exists the potential for serious consequences to our national disaster infrastructure.” One solution to this problem is to place educational scenarios to serve in disasters into the undergraduate nursing classroom through simulation. In doing this, nursing students will be given the opportunity to be exposed to realistic emergency preparedness, response, and recovery.
In the past, most nurse educators used a classroom setting to provide students with adequate content regarding disaster and emergency preparedness. However, recommendations now suggest that nursing students should be provided with active learning methods, like simulation, which encompasses opportunities for hands-on, realistic exposure to disaster response. In learning how to prepare for a disaster, it is hard to gain true experience in the clinical setting. Simulation will allow the students to gain the proper knowledge, skills, and attitudes to apply in a disaster in a more realistic scenario as opposed to a theoretical or hypothetical situation.
Through disaster simulation, students will learn how to:
- Assess safety issues for themselves, the response team, and victims during the disaster
- Safely administer medication to those in need
- Identify reactions to fear, panic, and stress that victims, families, and other responders may present with during the event
- Understand psychological impacts of disaster on individuals, families, and the community
- Maintain security and confidentiality during the event
Bailey Salvati is the Sales Intern for Pocket Nurse. This is her fourth article for SimTalk blog.