Weber State University Magazine Fall 2013 : Page 16

of , students aculty F … ask course disaster WHAT WHAT IF? Allison Barlow Hess University Communications preparedness S canning her surroundings wherever she goes, associate nursing professor London Draper Lowe is constantly asking, “What if?” “What if a wildfire or a bridge collapse blocks the main road between Weber State and my home in Huntsville? How far could I get by vehicle? By foot? What would the next safest path be? How would I cross the river in each season?” Lowe said, ticking off questions that run rapid-fire through her head. “Or what if a chemical spill releases toxic gas that blows over the university? Or an earthquake shakes the Wasatch Front — during a snow storm?” “Nurses must have decided ethically if they would respond in a disaster event, even though something like a bioterrorism incident (the deliberate release of bacteria, germs or viruses) would put their lives in jeopardy,” Lowe said. “They have to have had those talks with their families and have supplies and plans in place; otherwise, they would be distracted and could not be effective responders.” Following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the American Nurses Association launched a national nurse preparedness initiative to train as many of the three million nurses in the country as possible to become first responders for their communities. 16 wsu magazine | Fall 2013 It’s not that Lowe is “The result of that particularly worrisome, or ... preparation is multifacete d and initiative is that many local fearful; it’s that she wants begins with some difficult personal neighborhoods now have a to be prepared. She stores nurse who is much better decisions and conversations. winter jackets, sturdy boots prepared for disasters — and food in her car. She for directing people to safe places, for helping bought a solar-powered battery charger for her cell emergency response teams organize, for setting up phone. She keeps handy a “grab-and-go” kit with triage areas or command centers until cities are able medical supplies, and she has established a place for to organize and respond,” Dahlkemper said. “This her family to meet following an emergency. training provides resources that would not have been When Lowe and associate nursing professors in place in the past.” Tamara Dahlkemper and Valerie Gooder teach The national initiative prompted many nursing “Nursing 4070: Threats and Crises,” they remind schools to offer some disaster training, but Weber nursing students that preparation is multifaceted and State University has the only stand-alone course in begins with some difficult personal decisions and Utah. First offered in 2006, the elective is a student conversations. favorite, filling all 60 seats each semester, with waiting lists for both spring and fall. " "

What If?

ALLISON BARLOW HESS, UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATIONS

Scanning her surroundings wherever she goes, associate nursing professor <b>London Draper Lowe</b> is constantly asking, “What if?” “What if a wildfire or a bridge collapse blocks the main road between Weber State and my home in Huntsville? How far could I get by vehicle? By foot?<br /> <br /> What would the next safest path be? How would I cross the river in each season?” Lowe said, ticking off questions that run rapid-fire through her head. <br /> <br /> “Or what if a chemical spill releases toxic gas that blows over the university? Or an earthquake shakes the Wasatch Front — during a snow storm?”<br /> <br /> It’s not that Lowe is particularly worrisome, or fearful; it’s that she wants to be prepared. She stores winter jackets, sturdy boots and food in her car. She bought a solar-powered battery charger for her cell phone. She keeps handy a “grab-and-go” kit with medical supplies, and she has established a place for her family to meet following an emergency.<br /> <br /> When Lowe and associate nursing professors <b>Tamara Dahlkemper</b> and <b>Valerie Gooder</b> teach “Nursing 4070: Threats and Crises,” they remind nursing students that preparation is multifaceted and begins with some difficult personal decisions and conversations.<br /> <br /> “Nurses must have decided ethically if they would respond in a disaster event, even though something like a bioterrorism incident (the deliberate release of bacteria, germs or viruses) would put their lives in jeopardy,” Lowe said. “They have to have had those talks with their families and have supplies and plans in place; otherwise, they would be distracted and could not be effective responders.” <br /> <br /> Following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the American Nurses Association launched a national nurse preparedness initiative to train as many of the three million nurses in the country as possible to become first responders for their communities.<br /> <br /> “The result of that initiative is that many local neighborhoods now have a nurse who is much better prepared for disasters — for directing people to safe places, for helping emergency response teams organize, for setting up triage areas or command centers until cities are able to organize and respond,” Dahlkemper said. “This training provides resources that would not have been in place in the past.” <br /> <br /> The national initiative prompted many nursing schools to offer some disaster training, but Weber State University has the only stand-alone course in Utah. First offered in 2006, the elective is a student favorite, filling all 60 seats each semester, with waiting lists for both spring and fall.<br /> <br /> The culmination of the course has been a mock disaster that tests students’ responses against various emergencies. Lowe can get pretty inventive with scenarios; she has a 20-page manuscript ready for publication based on a zombie apocalypse. She took her cue from a popular media campaign created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse.” The CDC proclaims, “If you’re ready for a zombie apocalypse, then you’re ready for any emergency!”<br /> <br /> Lowe said it doesn’t matter the emergency, even in training the nursing students’ hearts pound and hands shake as they take charge and triage victims who are scattered about, acting out multiple injuries, often covered in fake blood.<br /> <br /> Nursing alumna <b>Michelle Paul ’13</b> said the course opened her eyes to the number of disasters occurring regularly, both globally and locally. For example, her class watched and analyzed the disaster response to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, a textbook example of all they had learned during the semester.<br /> <br /> “I used to think if there was an emergency, I would just go home,” Paul said. “Now I think, ‘OK, if I were in an emergency Situation — with my training — I would probably be an incident commander, so what would I do?’ I know how I can help, and I have started planning specific actions.” <br /> <br /> During the H1N1 flu pandemic of 2009, trained WSU nursing students and faculty, including Lowe, Gooder and Dahlkemper, followed specific national disaster protocols to help organize the largest one-day immunization in the state. In conjunction with the WSU Emergency Planning Committee and the Weber- Morgan Health Department, they administered nearly 8,000 flu shots to students and other campus community members.<br /> <br /> Lowe credits the swift response for preventing an outbreak that could have been much more widespread and deadly.<br /> <br /> “Weber State has that focus of wanting to make our university and community stronger,” Lowe said. “This is one of the ways we lead out. We want to set the example and encourage everyone to follow CDC recommendations: ‘Get a kit. Make a plan. Be informed. Get involved.’”<br /> <br />

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