Read how nurses and the BYU Community respond during a mass casualty incident drill.
Each semester, BYU Emergency Medical Services (EMTs), nursing students, the Department of Risk Management, and campus police participate in a mass casualty incident drill, or MCI. This drill helps emergency response teams around campus practice valuable skills and teaches nursing students how to operate in emergencies. This semester, the MCI was a simulated collapsed building staged on November 12 in the Franklin S. Harris Fine Arts Center (HFAC).
The MCI is conducted twice during the day. During the first run, there are usually some things that could be improved. Supervisors address these mistakes before participants run the simulation a second time. The Provo Fire Department gave tips this semester, particularly on transporting patients.
With the HFAC’s confusing layout, this semester’s MCI saw many challenges in finding and transporting patients. Twelve patients were never found. Additionally, a common mistake made in previous MCIs was perpetuated this semester. Assistant Teaching Professor Dr. Matt Anderson, a nursing professor who helped coordinate the MCI, shared that thirty patients were mistriaged. Triage refers to assigning the severity of patients’ wounds, so they are moved to the proper location for treatment. For example, patients marked “red” requires immediate care for severe wounds. The mistriage of patients led to inadequate care during the MCI. However, with some instruction, the EMTs and nurses were much more successful the second time the simulation took place.
Most nursing students will not experience working side-by-side with emergency care providers on the site of a disaster, such as a collapsed building; it is much more common for nurses to see these patients after they have been transported to the hospital. However, the MCI provides invaluable insights to our students. For example, one nursing student, Anna Pingree, helped with transportation throughout the MCI. She shared, “When we started, I thought we had it down, but then we had to keep running back more and more. It felt like there was a never-ending number of patients. It was tiring. But there were many of us, so we could call for help if needed.” Anna described the debrief, “We talked about what went well, and there was a lot of good teamwork, which was important for transportation because you can’t do it on your own.” She continued, “The MCI can be frustrating because it’s so chaotic, but as long as we communicated, it worked out well.”
Marinn Scott, another nursing student, shared, “I was a treatment nurse on the green tarp where we treat the less severe patients. It went quite well at my tarp. Nobody died, so that was awesome. I took a lot of vital signs and monitored the patients’ statuses. We put on a lot of gauze and bandages on minor wounds, but one of my bigger tasks was helping a patient with severe anxiety. Seeing how she calmed down throughout the simulation and progressively got better was rewarding. Just being able to be there for her was a good experience.”
We want to thank everyone who contributed to this learning experience, with a special thanks to the Provo Fire Department. As a college, we also wish to encourage our nursing students to make the most of their MCI experience, no matter their desired field of nursing.