An angry spouse opens fire during a counseling session for victims of domestic violence; a woman is found alive after surviving alone for two weeks after a massive flood; a movie theater bombing leaves one person dismembered; a shooting leaves one person exposed to an unknown chemical.
These were all emergency scenarios students at Loma Linda University Health had to evaluate May 11 for the university’s Critical Event Response training program, a multidisciplinary simulation training designed to better prepare future health care providers for the kinds of logistical and emotional situations presented by real-world catastrophes.
“When you get into the real world, you have to be able to work (together) with nurses, pharmacists, paramedics,” said Paul Savino, LLU assistant professor of emergency medicine and course director for the Critical Event Response Force.
There are certain techniques that are time tested, such as how do you triage, but the one that’s of importance to get across to students, Savino said, is “what does my discipline teach me and how do I rely on others’ knowledge to get through the situation.”
Although medical students are educated through various courses on the practices that could be applied in critical situations, the emergency response simulations last week offered a more hands-on approach in learning and applying those practices across multiple disciplines, he said.
For instance, the unknown chemical turned out to be hydrofluoric acid, Savino said. Medical students had to turn to pharmacy students to assess the victim. And the flood victim needed psychiatric care and students had to evaluate how to speak to her and if medication was necessary. They had to also provide medical care and work together with the community in the bombing scenario to get the victim to a hospital, he added.
Multiple disciplines such as nursing students, medical, dental and pharmacy students participated in the simulations. Actors portrayed victims involved in the events and mannequins were used in the roles of some injured.
While some of the students wouldn’t be boots on the ground during an emergency once in the field, they could be involved first-hand in treatment, Savino said.
And that’s is the one main goal behind the hands-on critical training, “to work together — as a hospital.”