In mid-March, Athens witnessed the first interdisciplinary disaster preparedness drill designed for students in four health care units associated with UGA.
Spearheaded by the College of Pharmacy, the four-hour event included some 172 students as medical personnel and 40 simulated victims from the College of Pharmacy, the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Augusta University/University of Georgia nursing and Medical Partnership programs. Thirty UGA and Augusta University faculty and staff as well as community instructors from Athens Regional Medical Center and the Clarke County Emergency Management Agency participated in various capacities. The coordinating committee consisted of four College of Pharmacy faculty including Catherine White, Trina von Waldner, Deanna McEwen and Ashley Hannings.
“Interdisciplinary education is required in the pharmacy curriculum as part of the college’s accreditation,” said von Waldner, director of the college’s continuing education and outreach programs and one of the organizers of the event. “This mock exercise provides our students and faculty with vital skills should a disaster occur and also helps fulfill our mission as a top-level pharmacy school.”
All pharmacy students are required to participate in disaster preparedness exercises, she said, but interprofessional education exercises are new. The health professions students learn about preparation and planning, incident management, safety and security, triage and treatment, and evacuation.
“Teamwork is a vital expectation in any health care practice,” said von Waldner, adding that each drill situation is created from the original emergency situation involving the accidental release of chlorine gas on a city street near the Health Sciences Campus. This exercise also introduces students to community resources that are vital to emergency response, according to White.
Five administrative stations were set up to prepare for hospital surge, supply information on antidote stockpiles for chemical and biological events, staff a community call center and provide transport for medical care. An additional five clinical drill centers focused on communication devices, triage for mass casualty victims, walk-in clinics, responder care and decontamination for humans and pets.