Radford University nursing students training for mass casualty disasters

RADFORD, Va. (WDBJ7) In Radford, the nurses of tomorrow are getting hands on training for what to do in a mass casualty disaster.

It's specifically for Radford University seniors who will be graduating this year and joining the nursing workforce.

The students were prepping at the Selu Conservancy & Observatory Tuesday for Wednesday's drill to practice for natural disasters, bioterrorism, meth labs, and active shooters.

In fact, the drill was started at Radford, in part, in response to the Virginia Tech shootings. Teachers wanted their students to graduate prepared for mass casualty situations.

Around 50 students spent part of their afternoon Tuesday practicing getting into and using special suits.

Radford student Tanner Martin described the suits saying, “It's a real tight space and it's actually really hard and that's why we're learning that you have to have someone help you put the suit on. It's definitely a tight space and if you do something wrong, sometimes you can't breathe.”

It's a chance for the future nurses to get hands-on, and more specifically out of the classroom.

Kelsey Gibberson said, “It's not like a real life scenario, but you can kind of relate and be like, 'It does happen, I've kind of been in this situation before so it kind of brings back what you learned even more so than just sitting in a classroom.”

But how often will they really use this training? One of the professors involved said with the rising drug epidemic and the flooding and tornadoes we see every year, it can be much more common than expected.

Radford Nursing School Associate Professor Erin Cruise explained, “Certainly a nurse who's working in the emergency room is going to encounter a lot of this. Also nurses who work in public health or schools will encounter different types of disasters.”

But that's not to say the students are excited about these cases. In fact more than one future nurse said the same thing about using these skills they're developing.

Megan Frederick explained, “I really hope I never have to use it. But if it were to happen I would be really happy that I'm actually ready for that disaster to strike because I'm prepared and ready to help and do my part in the nursing aspect of it.”

The drill will be happening Wednesday in a house on the Selu Conservancy property. Some students will be nurses at a hospital, some will be triage on scene, and some will be victims of a deadly situation.

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