KCU Joplin medical students participate in mass casualty simulation

On Saturday, Kansas City University students at the Joplin Campus had their skills tested in an exercise known as a mass casualty incident simulation.

JOPLIN, Mo.– KCU medical students are learning firsthand how to handle mass casualty situations. 

“You could be attending a concert and there can be a mass shooter or, you know, natural disasters like the Joplin tornado, you never know when you’re going to be called in to respond to a mass casualty…you might be the first on scene and you’ll have to kind of take care of the injuries of people who are involved in the accident,” said Dr. Kenneth Stewart, a faculty member at KCU. 

On Saturday, Kansas City University students at the Joplin Campus had their skills tested in an exercise known as a mass casualty incident simulation.

“A mass casualty incident is where you have a significant number of casualties that will exceed the resources of the local community. Usually, a car accident might involve two cars. There may be three or four casualties. That’s very well within the ability for EMS to take care of. However, if you’ve got a mass casualty, usually we’re talking about dozens or sometimes even hundreds of people.”

The more casualties there are, the harder it can be for area medical facilities to provide care. It’s important for those wanting to go into medicine to know how to handle those situations.

“This is just a great early example of what we might be doing in the future,” said Emma Bowman, a second-year student at KCU. 

Bowman said wants to go into emergency medicine, specifically the air force, so she took part in Saturday’s scenario.

“A group of about two dozen college-age kids and they are going to be backpacking in northern California. There’s been a bunch of rainstorms, and unfortunately, that caused a mudslide and right through their campsite,” Bowman said.

This exercise gave students a wide variety of scenarios they may encounter in the real world.

“As you can imagine, with a massive landslide, you’re going to have multiple abrasions, lacerations, broken bones. sometimes, you know, you will have regular things that take place. heart attacks, you know, diabetic emergencies. some of the common things, asthma attacks,” said Dr. Stewart.

The medical students started off in the woods, there, the first years acted as the disaster victims following a mudslide while second years played the role of EMTs and physician’s responding to their distress call, determining who needed the most urgent care, who was well enough to assist, and who couldn’t be saved. It’s something medical professionals continue to face, especially during the pandemic. 

“That’s a difficult thing for any health care provider to deal with because, you know, the way we’re wired is we take care of everybody, And so, you know, that’s that’s been I think probably the most traumatic thing for health care providers in Covid is just not being able to give the care they’re used to giving to everyone,” said Robert Arnce, a faculty member at KCU.

Next, students transported victims to their medical triage area, where they learned how to take care of victims in high-stress situations.

“We’re hoping that this kind of gives the students an opportunity to put themselves in a position that is very low risk and then kind of understand what is needed in such high-stress situations,” said Bowman. 

At the end of the simulation, students learn what they did well, and what they could improve on, so they can be prepared to help patients in the real world.

This was the first time the university hosted a simulation like this for students, they say they hope it can be an annual event.