By Chandra Feldman

[Beloit, KS, April 5, 2021]  In the morning of  Thursday, April 29th, the Practical Nursing program from NCK Technical college prepped for their first ever simulated disaster drill. This drill combined efforts from the NCK Tech Welding students, Mitchell County EMS, Mitchell County Emergency Management, Mitchell County Hospital Health Systems, Mitchell County Health Department, North Central Regional Planning Commission, Geisler Mansion – Moulage Artist, Deedra Stertz -Moulage Artist, LifeStar Flight Team, Eberle Studios (Videography), Beloit Police Department, Mitchell County Sheriff’s Department, Beloit Fire Department, City of Beloit, Julie McShane-Clinical Social Work/Therapist, and hours upon hours of planning and organization done by Samantha Miller, NCK Tech Nursing Instructor.

This year the nursing program went through some curriculum changes that resulted in disaster management being included into the curriculum outline. Samantha Miller took over this curriculum component and after completing this education session with students, she started devising plans to further students learning with an immersive and collaborative mass casualty exercise. From a nursing perspective, disaster management is an objective that has been receiving more attention and prioritization over the last several years to help prepare for the unexpected. Historically, research has found that the nursing profession receives little education regarding leadership and decision-making during disaster events. The goal was to simulate a scenario that could imitate a disastrous situation in hopes that student would be more prepared in responding when an actual disaster occurs, leading to better patient outcomes. “It is no secret that we take pride in producing workforce ready graduates and felt this would be another great way to accomplish that.” – Samantha Miller, Nursing Instructor

The nursing department at NCK Tech – Beloit is always looking for ways to better prepare future nurses for the workforce. It was felt that a mass casualty drill of this caliber would give students the opportunity to apply their critical thinking skills and execute the concept of prioritization in a way that could not be achieved in a classroom setting. So many students learn best from a hands-on approach. Through this drill, students were able to manage the care of several patients while collaborating with experienced healthcare personnel who guided their prioritization and critical thinking. They had the opportunity to triage patients, provide stabilization treatment, initiate and receive patient transfers from the scene, and further assess and treat the victims in the hospital setting. The nursing students were challenged to refine their communication skills in a high stress situation while still overseeing the care of the victims. “ Our goal at NCK Tech is to enable students to learn in ways that are creative and hands-on. Nursing students don’t always get to engage in trauma experiences, so we created that opportunity. They were able to collaborate with other health care professionals as they utilized nursing skills they have learned.” – Melissa Crump, Director of Nursing

Once the welding students had all gone through moulage artistry and took their places Kyle Kopsa, Welding Instructor, turned on the smoke machine to set the stage. These students had been given various scenarios to act out that varied from minor scratches, concussions, impalements, and of course, death. Mitchell County EMS mentored NCK Practical Nursing students in assessing and prioritizing patient care. Victims, or welding students, were moved and categorized based on injuries to a triage area set up outside the welding shop. Medical personnel continued to assist in training on best procedures to ensure safe care and efficient passage to the NCK Tech Hospital, staged in the nursing building. Throughout this process the students faced VERY graphic injuries and continuous shouts from disoriented and stressed victims/ actors. The event lasted about 4 hours and ended with one victim, Danea Buschkoetter – Welding Instructor, being air lifted out due to a crushing injury and impaled extremity.

“Overall, we could not be more proud of our students and all the participants that made this drill a success! Without their collaboration, guidance, resources, and mentorship our students would not have received the experience that they did. Every department went above and beyond and we want to thank all of the parties involved from the bottom of our hearts! Our moulage artists blew away all of our expectations with the realism of their special effects make-up that they applied in order to make our victims injuries as close to the real thing as possible. The acting from our welding students who portrayed our injured victims was top-notch. The mentorship from the EMS staff and the nurses from MCHHS created a positive learning environment for our students, allowing them to gain the most knowledge while still challenging their skillset. Every phase of the exercise progressed in an orderly fashion and allowed for learning opportunities at each station. We look forward to collaborating and expanding this concept in years to come in order to better prepare our nurses but also to build healthcare relationships/partnerships between various departments and organizations. Exercises of this nature help each organization gain a better understanding of what each departments role is and how they can best contribute during the crisis.” – Samantha Miller, Nursing Instructor