Category 5 Hurricane Mass Sheltering Exercise

Extreme weather events have become increasingly common, putting more demands on nurses to be on the front lines of disaster situations. But many nursing students don’t get more than textbook instruction on disaster preparedness prior to graduation. Into this void, the SONHS has stepped to lead by example. Disaster preparedness and response are part of the School’s population health course. All baccalaureate nursing students participate in a comprehensive disaster preparedness curriculum that concludes with a full-scale disaster simulation designed using guiding principles of the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program. A mass sheltering exercise transforms the Simulation Hospital into a Red Cross shelter, filled with volunteer “evacuees” seeking safety in advance of a major hurricane. Students must take on various roles, including shelter workers conducting client intake and assessments according to Red Cross protocols while carefully watching for signs of any infectious disease. Surprise elements or “injects” test their knowledge and skills, whether determining how they will isolate contagion and keep other shelter residents disease-free or deciding how to triage mass casualties from an explosion at a nearby shelter.