Texas A&M Health Moves Annual Disaster Day Online
Information courtesy of TAMU Health
More than 600 students participate in a new online disaster training
Texas A&M University Health Science Center (Texas A&M Health) conducted the largest student-led virtual disaster response simulation in the nation. The event is usually held at the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service’s (TEEX) Brayton Fire Training Field and Disaster City, where hundreds of health science students and volunteers engage in emergency rescue, triage and patient care. This year, pandemic conditions have forced event coordinators to move the event online. To move the massive and complex event to a virtual format, Texas A&M Health collaborated with the Texas A&M University Department of Visualization to develop the largest role-playing “game” in the institution’s history.
“Disaster training is a critical component of our curriculum. Like most academic entities, COVID-19 has made us think of innovative solutions. Nothing can replace the hands-on Disaster Day, but moving it online allows us to enhance our current training,” said Christine Kaunas, executive director for Texas A&M Health Interprofessional Education & Research. “It has also allowed us to incorporate more students from our campuses across Texas which was restricted before due to limitations on capacity and travel.”
Now in its thirteenth year, Disaster Day, which began in the College of Nursing, provides students from multiple disciplines an opportunity to hone skills they need in the event of an emergency or natural disaster. A new scenario is selected each year and kept secret until event day to provide the realism of an unexpected situation. Last year’s event was an earthquake and building collapse, and this year’s event simulated a meteor strike. “The virtual simulation gives us more scenario options that we aren’t able to do in-person,” Kaunas said.
Future plans are to integrate the virtual simulation program into the regular curriculum and host a virtual and in-person disaster day each year. Still in the early stages of development, Texas A&M Health is working to gain additional support to improve the current version of the virtual simulation and eventually license it for uses outside the university.
“COVID- 19 and the recent natural disasters have shone a spotlight on the health care industry and the importance of disaster training for current and future health care professionals,” said Greg Hartman, chief operating officer and senior vice president of Texas A&M Health. “Virtual Disaster Day showcases Texas A&M Health’s objective of being an innovator in the industry and what can be accomplished when seemingly different industries—in this case, video game development and health care—collaborate to solve a problem.”
About Texas A&M University Health Science Center Texas A&M University Health Science Center (Texas A&M Health) comprises five colleges (dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy and public health) and several centers and institutes with a shared mission of advancing health care for all. We serve the state and beyond with campuses and locations in Bryan-College Station, Dallas, Temple, Houston, Round Rock, Kingsville, Corpus Christi and McAllen. Learn more at health.tamu.edu or follow @TAMUHealth on Twitter.