News • April 05, 2023

Mass casualty simulation at CBU part of training for real-life collaboration

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Riverside, Calif. (April 4, 2023) – Cries for help and moans of pain filled the gym on the College of Health Science campus as “victims” waited for assistance. Graduate students from athletic training scrambled to help. The Riverside Fire Department arrived, providing triage and treatment.

All the action was part of an interprofessional education (IPE) mass casualty simulation at California Baptist University on March 31 and April 1.

Then the fire department communicated with three “hospitals” at the College of Nursing located across campus staffed by nursing and physician assistant students. The fire department also supervised the transportation of the victims by golf cart to the hospitals. Working behind the scenes were public health, social work and speech-language pathology students.

Graduate students in athletic training, public health, physician assistant studies, speech-language pathology and nursing along with undergraduate social work students take three IPE courses in their programs. Students learn about the roles and responsibilities of other health programs and go through smaller simulations and discussion exercises. The courses culminate with the mass casualty simulation.

In years past, health professions were educated in silos, such as nursing, medicine or public health, said Dr. Dayna Herrera, department chair of the Learning Resource Center and IPE.

“Then we got out and we were expected to be able to understand one another. We all have the same goals, but different languages,” she said. “Research has shown that students who are taught to work together in their health profession programs go into practice better prepared to work interdisciplinary and that has proven to improve patient care and community care outcomes.”

Over the course of two days, the simulation ran eight times, involving about 140 students, 160 firefighters, 45 facilitators and 60 actors as patients.

In the two weeks leading up to the event, the teams viewed simulated news footage of the incident and discussed how to collaborate. Afterward, team members gathered to discuss community rebuilding.

Changes this year included one team – with an average of 17 students – going through the simulation at a time and the fire department using the simulation as a multicausality incident drill.

Taking part allowed the firefighters to prepare while showing the students what the department does, said Tony Perna, training division chief for RFD.

“The Fire Department benefits from it because if we do have this tomorrow, we're going to be trained on it,” Perna said. “We're going to know … where we need to get better and then we can train in that area.”

Emilie Renaud, an athletic training graduate student, said she is usually working with athletes on the game field, so the simulation taught her a lot.

“I learned how to react under pressure. I had a lot of adrenaline, but I stayed calm, knowing what the most critical things to take care of first. And I learned to collaborate with peers,” Renaud said.

Armando Holguin, a physician assistant graduate student, said the simulation taught him the importance of teamwork.

“You want to make sure that everybody has a job and everybody knows what their responsibility is beforehand. If they don't know, it's kind of just madness,” Holguin said.

In the IPE courses he learned a lot about the other professions, which will help in his career.

“Whatever setting that I end up working in, communication is going to be key,” Holguin said. “How can I make their job better and how can I assist them in doing their responsibilities? The same thing with me – how can I have them help me accomplish my goals in taking care of patients?”


Contact CBU Marketing and Communication

Vice President for Marketing and Communication:
Angela Meluski

8432 Magnolia Avenue
Riverside, CA 92504