Mock anthrax event lets student practice skills in case of real emergency

Brenna Parker

Portage County Health Department partnered with Kent State’s College of Nursing and the Emergency Management Agency (EMA) to stage a disaster simulation exercise Tuesday and Thursday to educate students on how to act in a simulated disaster drill.

College of Nursing professor Pamela Rafferty-Semon said this event is helpful for students to practice their skills outside of the skills.

“It’s a different area of nursing that they are not used to having by being in the hospitals,” Rafferty-Semon said. “One of the important rules with being a public health nurse is to set up the pods, that is one of the most important roles that they would play if some sort of event like this would happen.”

Students worked on a point of dispensing exercise, which involved a mock Anthrax release, triage and treatment site. Participants in the event learned how to work with mass prophylaxis and mass vaccinations distribution. The exercise students worked to solve was a fake bomb that was dropped on the Kent Student Center.

Rafferty-Semon said the event was timely and relevant with Kent State’s recent Ebola scare from last year. During the Ebola crisis Rafferty-Semon worked with University Health Services Director Dr. Angela DeJulius, President Beverly Warren and Portage County Director of Nursing Rosemary Ferraro to get information out to the public.

Portage County Health Department Public Information Officer Becky Lehman said in Kent State, the Kent community and Portage County had to come together to communicate to the public during the Ebola scare.

“In a real life event like Ebola, both Kent State, Kent city as well as the county, we came together to create one consistent message,” Lehman said. “We came together to see if they all had the same information and disseminated the information at once so there was no conflicting information.”

Lehman said students learned the specific details in planning and implementing a disaster.

“That would be the same situation that would happen in a real life event, if this were a real life event like anthrax,” Lehman said.

This is the third year the College of Nursing has partnered with the Portage County Health Department for the event. The mock exercise allowed the Portage County Health Department and the EMA to test the effectiveness of Portage County’s current disaster plan. The event offered training for students and staff, who acted as victims as though it was a real event that featured triage and treatment stations.

“This is an amazing program for students,” Lehman said. “It is being looked at across the state of Ohio.”

Lehman added other counties across the state Ohio are replicating programs similar to the event.

Brenna Parker is the health reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].