Nursing students practice for health crisis in emergency simulation

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Imagine 75 students on UW-Eau Claire's campus have confirmed cases of the flu, and an Emergency Operations Center is being started on the campus.

That was the scenario Friday for UWEC nursing students who are using an emergency simulation to get some real-life practice

It's a crisis health officials prepare for, but hope never happen.

75 cases of the flu have been confirmed on the UW-Eau Claire campus.

"We're teaching them critical thinking skills so that they can work through the process and then get more confident in their skills. And simulation is a low-stakes area, you're not going to really hurt anybody in simulation," said Associate Professor of Nursing Norah Airth-Kindree.

Students set up an Emergency Operations Center.

The goal to provide a mass immunization clinic that was advised by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

"This is absolutely the reason why I want to do this because a lot of this is, I want to be the resource to people, the people I work with, the people I work for. So this is pretty grassroots, what I want to do," said Nursing Student Tom Haukom.

Representatives from the Eau Claire City-County Health Department, Emergency Management, and other surrounding health departments were there as well.

"It's very important to have our community partners because you can't do public health without collaboration and networking. And so to have our community partners is vital for our students I think to see who they need to work with too," said Airth-Kindree.

For Haukom, the simulations give him and his classmates a chance to break away from the books and lectures.

"Nothing works out cleanly, as far as patients are presenting X, Y, Z symptoms and that's what matches up exactly what's in the book. It's not always going to be like that," he said.

While the exercise was practice for the future nurses, it will provide real experience if a health crisis like that ever strikes.