Disaster Preparedness

Nothing affects us like the unknown.  The chaos of devastating storms, acts of terror, epidemics, or major accidents disrupt people and communities and weaken the foundations of safety and security.  These destabilizing events can increase demand on an already taxed health care system to a potential breaking point.  Understanding these impacts, and how to mitigate them, is a central research focus for the School of Nursing and Health Studies.

Disaster Preparedness research focuses on understanding the needs of communities and health care professional in these tumultuous and demanding circumstances.  We study how to be ready and prepared, how best to respond, and how to recover.  The Simulation Hospital’s unprecedented capability to seamlessly replicate disaster situations provides a unique research and training environment for nurses and other health care professionals.  Responders such as firefighters, police officers, health department employees, community leaders, and Red Cross workers are able to work together in an accurate replication of the organized chaos in a hospital or an evacuation center during a disaster.  These cross-disciplinary collaborations provide opportunities to study the impacts on health care infrastructure, community-based providers, injured or stricken patients and their families, and the responders themselves.

Simulation training spans from pandemics to hurricanes, infrastructure failures to acts of terrorism, and to both natural and man-made disasters.  Students and researchers alike must put theory into practice as they make split-second decisions while conducting triage of injured or ill patients, and then review and assess their actions and learn from their mistakes.  Placing a premium on communication and collaboration, these simulations enhance the skills necessary to work side by side in the field during actual disasters.  Through ongoing development, implementation, evaluation, and optimization, SONHS is creating a framework for disaster preparedness education that will serve as a model for institutions and agencies around the world.