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TU nursing students get hands-on training at Operation STAT

A plane crashes into Unitas Stadium injuring thousands. How do health care professionals and emergency services coordinate treatment of the wounded?

That’s what Towson students from the College of Health Professions found out during the 2014 Operation STAT emergency exercise on April 11.

First- and second-semester TU nursing, physician assistant and child life students, as well as physician assistant students from the Community College of Baltimore County – Essex, managed mock victims’ triage and treatment, addressing conditions ranging from glass embedded in the face to burns and broken bones to death.

Students also had the opportunity to join Greater Baltimore Medical Center staff in their hospital-based simulation center.

“We got a better idea of how everybody works together,” says Mike Miller, a second-year master’s candidate in physician assistant studies at Towson. “It was just a really good experience to mimic the real world without actually having anybody’s life at stake, and a little more rewarding than sitting in the classroom, watching videos or reading books or hearing lectures.”

The chaotic atmosphere echoed with moans, groans and pretend cries of pain as volunteers played the role of mock victims with enthusiasm and drama. Actors hailed from the Friends School of Baltimore, the Health Professions Academy in Carroll County, the Hussman Center for Adults with Autism, Joppatowne High School, Towson University and the Metropolitan Baltimore Chapter of the Emergency Nurses Association.

Injuries appeared frighteningly realistic thanks to a stop at the moulage (the art of applying faux wounds) station, which was equipped with gallons of fake blood.

Baltimore technology company Barcoding Inc. provided a scanning system to keep track of the victim treatment process. Each victim wore a wristband that was scanned numerous times throughout the emergency scenario. The collected data will be analyzed by Towson University supply chain management students to determine the efficiency of the process. Data will later be used to set benchmarks for next year’s exercise.

Clinical and administrative soldiers from the Maryland Defense Force, a uniformed component of the Military Department of Maryland, also participated to sharpen and maintain their emergency readiness. And students from Joppatowne shadowed emergency preparedness professionals as part of their emergency preparedness course.

“[Organizations] have an opportunity to practice in a large-scale exercise, and they bring levels of realism to the activity that benefits our students’ learning,” explains Marcie Weinstein, associate dean of the College of Health Professions.

“Operation STAT provides a wonderful mechanism for strengthening our community partnerships by building on the assets of each organization to achieve our collective mission.”


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