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Disaster Nursing Competencies

  • Describe expected role in emergency response in the specific practice setting as a part of the institution or community response.
  • Respond to an emergency event within the emergency management system of the clinical practice, institution and community.
  • Recognize an illness or injury as potentially resulting from exposure to a biologic, chemical or radiological agent possibly associated with a terrorist event; 1) recognize uncommon presentations of common diseases and distinguish these from common presentations of uncommon diseases that may be related to a terrorist event or emerging infectious disease; b) recognize emerging patterns or clusters of unusual presentations.
  • Institute appropriate steps to limit spread, including infection control, decontamination techniques, and use of appropriate personal protective equipment.
  • Report identified cases or events to the public health system to facilitate surveillance and investigation using the established institutional or local communication protocol.
  • Initiate patient care within your professional scope of practice and arrange for prompt referral appropriate to the identified condition(s).
  • Use reliable information sources for current referral and management guidelines.
  • Provide reliable information to others (e.g., institutional administration or media), as relevant to the specific practice site and emergency response protocol.
  • Communicate risks and actions taken clearly and accurately to patients and concerned others.
  • Identify and manage the expected stress/anxiety associated with emergency events, making referrals for mental health services if needed.
  • Participate in post-event feedback and assessment of response with the local public health system and take needed steps to improve future response.

Drills & Exercises

Several drills and tabletop exercises are used at the University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing to augment “Just-in-case” training:

  • An interdisciplinary (Nursing, Social Work and Pharmacy) mock drill is held every fall and spring, giving students an opportunity to triage and assess injured victims, using CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams) modules as preparation.
  • An infectious disease tabletop exercise, based on the movie “Contagion”, is periodically held
  • Graduate nursing students participate in a mass sheltering tabletop exercise, encompassing both general shelters for evacuees as well as a medical special needs unit.