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UNG Gainesville Campus to host Mock Disaster Event March 8

Mock Disaster 2017
A student team discusses strategy just before the 2016 mock disaster event to ensure they each know their roles and understand how best to respond to whatever situations they encounter during the exercise.

The University of North Georgia's (UNG) College of Health Sciences & Professions will host its annual mock disaster event on the university's Gainesville Campus on March 8, giving students, faculty and staff practical experience in how to respond in times of real, large-scale emergencies.

"A core focus area for our college is inter-professional education," said Dr. Teresa Conner-Kerr, dean of UNG's College of Health Sciences & Professions. "This event affords a critical opportunity for the different health care programs to work together with our campus partners toward a common goal of emergency preparedness. We look forward to expanding our partnerships and further enhancing the safety of our north Georgia community."

This year's drill will simulate the aftermath of a tornado, and will involve props to help create the appearance of damaged structures and victims in various states of injury.

"Emergency preparedness training and practice is rarely included in traditional health profession curricula. The mock disaster training and exercise event gives students, faculty and staff the unique opportunity to learn important skills while fostering inter-professional engagement throughout our college and the UNG family," said Dr. Carolynn DeSandre, assistant dean of UNG's College of Health Sciences & Professions and director of the exercise. "In addition, this event increases awareness of UNG protocols, procedures and resources in the event of a true disaster, and helps prepare our students for their professional careers in healthcare."

This is the largest mock disaster event the university has held to date. Nearly 200 first-year nursing, physical therapy and clinical mental health counseling students will play the victims while 226 students beyond their first year of study will split into 16 rescue teams, working to locate, triage and treat the "patients" throughout the exercise.

For practice with more advanced treatments, student responders will locate and identify a "victim" with an advanced case, then a "manikin" that can accurately simulate the wound will be brought in to replace the student actor. Faculty and staff will supervise the event throughout its entirety, and UNG's Department of Public Safety will be on-hand as well, with nine officers training alongside the students.

"One of the biggest threats to the safety of our campuses is severe weather. This type of exercise gives our officers exposure to scenes they may respond to during such an event," said Greg Williams, emergency preparedness coordinator for UNG's Office of Public Safety. "This event will better prepare our officers to confront situations such as severely damaged property and people that have crush injuries as a result of a tornado."

Also, UNG's Department of Clinical Mental Health Counseling will have faculty and students on site to support any participants who struggle with the serious nature of the environment created by the simulation. In addition, Hall County Emergency Medical Service will be on location to provide assistance in case any real injuries or emergencies occur during the exercise.

The event will begin at 1:30 p.m. at the Oakwood Building, Parking Lot S and the Continuing Education Building. At 2:30 p.m., there will be a mock media announcement, followed by an event debriefing.

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