Exercise Designed to Help Health Profession Students in Emergency Situation

OGDEN, Utah – It starts off innocuously enough, with a routine dental checkup. But the situation quickly goes awry when the “patient” moans and then collapses in the chair.

“That’s when it starts getting good,” said Jeff Grunow, assistant professor and chair of the Department of Emergency Care & Rescue at Weber State University. Grunow and assistant nursing professor Sally Cantwell have created a simulation exercise designed to foster interaction between health profession students from six of the eight academic disciplines housed in the Dr. Ezekiel R. Dumke College of Health Professions at WSU.

From the moment the “patient”—a simulation manikin—collapses in the chair, students will be expected to respond to the scenario as it unfolds. Initially,dental hygiene students will be the primary responders.

As the exercise progresses, students in paramedic, nursing, clinical laboratory sciences, health administration and respiratory therapy will participate in responding to and treating the patient.

“Over the years our faculty have lamented that while each of our programs are excellent in their own right, our students rarely interact with each other professionally,” Grunow said. “A simulation exercise like this introduces them to interdisciplinary participation, much like what they will encounter in the clinical environment.”

During the scenario, the manikin patient will be treated and moved by paramedic students from the dental hygiene clinic to the Dumke Interdisciplinary Simulation Lab, where nursing, clinical laboratory sciences and respiratory therapy students will be involved in diagnosis and treatment.

The idea of an interdisciplinary exercise had been talked about for several years in the college, but the actual outline and plans for the simulation only came together earlier this year.

Grunow, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, drew on his military experience in developing the exercise. The simulation will include observers and controllers.

“In the military, observers watch the exercise and offer critiques of how things went. Some of our faculty from each discipline will serve that role,” Grunow said. Controllers are people in the simulation who help nudge the process forward if the exercise stalls, such as suggesting 911 be called if no one thinks to summon paramedics.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first exercise of its kind in the United States,” Grunow said. “We expect to learn a great deal from this preliminary simulation.”

Grunow is already thinking about expanding the exercise in the future, inviting students from athletic training to be part of a scenario and perhaps enlisting theater students to play the role of family members or bystanders.

Reporters interested in covering the exercise should contact either Grunow or Cantwell at the numbers and e-mail addresses listed below.

Visit weber.edu/wsutoday for more news about Weber State University.
John Kowalewski, director of Media Relations
801-626-7212 • jkowalewski@weber.edu

Jeff Grunow, assistant professor and chair, Emergency Care & Rescue
801-626-6521 ·

Sally Cantwell, assistant nursing professor
801-626-7858 ·