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First-Year Freshmen in A-State’s ‘Making Connections’ Course Participate in Tornado Disaster Simulation


JONESBORO – Hundreds of freshmen students at Arkansas State University participated today in a large scale class project, filling numerous roles in a tornado disaster simulation.

Some were victims, made up with wounds of various kinds, and others worked with professionals to learn more about the various disaster response roles.

Universities often involve students in emergency drills; however, the involvement of an entire freshman class is somewhat unique.

The planning team included University College faculty, who teach “Making Connections,” a three-hour course for new A-State freshmen, and faculty in the disaster preparedness and emergency management program of the College of Nursing and Health Professions (CNHP).

 “The main goal of the whole exercise is to expose students to the roles of various professions,” explained Dr. Jill Simons, dean of University College, which administers the first-year experience program.  “The disaster is simply a platform to tie in many disciplines.”

Because of the large number of participants, the disaster scenario was run three times.  City, county and state emergency officials also participated to help enhance the drill’s effectiveness.

The “injured” students were treated through a mass casualty triage system.  The scenario was made more complex by some victims’ exposure to lab chemicals and fumes from a ruptured rail car.  Both the student victims of the spills and the student responders were processed through a decontamination procedure, just like an actual disaster.

Other first-year students shadowed various roles in the emergency operations center, all under the guidance of faculty.

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