OGDEN, Utah – Five years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Weber State University nursing students are gaining new perspective on nursing in crisis situations thanks to a unique WSU course.
Tamara Chase, London Draper and Valerie Gooder, faculty members in the WSU Department of Nursing, are teaching a course this semester on nursing response in threats and crises. This is the second time the course has been offered.
According to Gooder, the need for such a course in nursing curriculum became apparent after the terrorist attacks of 2001 and during the Hurricane Katrina disaster.
"Every community needs nurses who are trained to be part of the first-response team in a crisis," she said. "Nurses today need to know how to put out fires and condemn buildings. They need to understand there may be a difference between priorities in the field compared to the hospital."
Students taking the course learn about disaster priorities, where patients are evaluated according to the severity of their injuries. Patients with life-threatening injuries, who would be resuscitated in a hospital, may be left untreated in a disaster situation.
During the course, students also will learn how to respond to potential crises, including terrorism attacks, natural disasters, chemical spills, explosive and incendiary devices and nuclear attacks.
Additionally, the students will take a three-week Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) certification course taught by Corey Barton, an adjunct faculty member and Ogden City Fire Department battalion chief.
"CERT certification is a great benefit to communities throughout the state, as it provides a pool of professional medical workers trained to help neighborhoods and communities, as necessary, until governmental assistance is available," said Evelyn Draper, RN-to-BSN coordinator for the Department of Nursing.
On Sept. 23 the CERT course will culminate with the nurses holding a mock disaster at Wasatch Elementary School. "A mock disaster allows our students to apply the theory they’ve learned in class on a practical level," Gooder said. "It gives them a greater understanding of the conditions in that kind of situation."
Because very few crisis and threat response nursing courses are offered in the U.S., the WSU course has garnered national attention. Chase, London Draper and Gooder will hold a workshop about the process of developing such a course with nursing faculty from throughout the country at the National League for Nursing Education Summit, which will be held in New York City from Sept. 27-30.