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DeSales Students Participate in Mass Casualty Training

by Katherine Bortz '15 | Oct 27, 2013
DeSales students participate in an emergency drill.Students treat a "victim" outside of Dooling Hall during the University's mass casualty drill. Nursing and physician assistant students cooperated with local EMS providers. (Photo by Amy Herzog '10)

On Sunday, October 27, DeSales University hosted a mock emergency event—the aftermath of a school shooting.

The simulation, set in and outside of the main classroom building of the University’s Center Valley Campus, focused on the triage and treatment of multiple victims of a mock tragedy.

“While the DeSales University Police Department was involved in the coordination of the event, this was not a police exercise to disarm or disable a person with a weapon,” said Steven Marshall, DeSales University Chief of Police. “The simulation was for the treatment of victims.”

Marshall had also ordered that no live weapons were to be carried by anyone other than DeSales University police during the drill.

The simulation will help develop the skills of the students who are in the University’s nursing and physician assistant programs as well as DeSales’ student-run emergency medical service (EMS).

Working with the University, Lehigh Valley Health Network set up a mobile triage center in the Dooling Hall parking lot. Students learned how to treat patients in a field hospital setting, extending their skills beyond what they learn in a traditional classroom.

Dr. Mary Ellen Miller, associate professor of nursing states “sadly, these events are becoming far too commonplace in our nation. A simulation exercise such as this drill prepares our students to quickly assess, triage, and provide pre-hospital care to victims. This experience is something you can not provide in a classroom setting.”

Members of the DeSales community and students from the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts acted as victims of the simulated mass casualty event. They were triaged and treated according to their assigned injuries, which were created through the use of theatrical make-up.

In addition to the DeSales EMS team, local EMS organizations that also participated include the Upper Saucon Township Ambulance Corps; Cetronia, Macungie, Hellertown, Emmaus, and the City of Bethlehem EMS; and the student-run EMS of Villanova University.

At the completion of the drill, a debriefing discussion was held to review the strengths and weaknesses of the event, which will assist in planning for future drills.

“It’s one thing to go in and take your classes and take your exams and graduate,” said Dennis Rasley, emergency services specialist and controller for the event. “We’re providing them with real-world experiences while they’re in an educational setting.”


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