Touro University California Rocked by IPE

The IPE committee presented its third workshop on campus with a bit of a shake-up on the agenda. 

On August 28th, Touro University California hosted its Fall IPE event on disaster preparedness, specifically on TUC’s capacity to respond to a catastrophic earthquake. Suffice it to say, faculty, students, and staff were given a jolt of reality.

Inside Wilderman Hall, several groups gathered in various points of the building. In the Great Room, about 15 students representing all three colleges were in the midst of a makeshift disaster. One student was down on the floor, acting injured. Another sat on a chair with imaginary wounds.

Heather Veitch, a second year student in the joint MSPAS/MPH Program, stood over another student and began taking vitals. “Are you feeling dizzy?” she asks before giving a diagnosis.

Meanwhile, Dr. Eduardo Velasco of COM, who is leading this group, surveys the students and helps guide them in the orchestrated disaster.

Earlier in the day, David H. Lipin, Team Commander, California Bay Area Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, gave a presentation to a full house in Lander Hall Auditorium about his own experiences, leading a medical assistance response team in the immediate aftermath of the Haiti earthquake.

It’s crucial to know how we should partake in a disaster, he said, especially in a place that has a large standing population like TUC.

“The students are right on target,” Mr. Lipin said after observing various groups. “They’re very creative in their thinking and they’re stepping out of the weeds, focusing on the big picture. That’s the most important first step.”

At morning’s end, faculty, students and staff reassembled in the auditorium for a debriefing.

“I enjoyed watching everyone communicate effectively and provide the best care we could under stressful situations,” Veitch said the IPE exercise. “We all brought our expertise to the situation – we had a pharmacist who specialized in medication management, I specialized in clinical management, for instance – to provide the best assessment for the patient.”

Interprofessional education occurs when students from two or more professions learn about, from, and with each other to enable effective collaboration and improve health outcomes. Once students understand how to work interprofessionally, they are ready to enter the workplace as a member of the collaborative practice team.  This is a key step in moving health systems from fragmentation to a position of strength, according to the World Health Organization. 

Disasters may be earthquakes, hurricanes, epidemics, explosions, floods, or other devastating events. DMATs are typically composed of 100 - 150 medical professionals and support staff organized, trained and prepared to activate. In the event of a disaster, a team of about 35-50 will deploy as a unit to provide medical and health care to disaster victims. A DMAT provides essential medical care at the disaster site, triages and treats victims at casualty collection points, and provides medical care at staging and reception sites. 

A major earthquake scenario was selected to demonstrate the need to implement crisis standards of care as a result of a catastrophic, sudden onset disaster event. This scenario was based in response to a devastating disaster event that is regional in scope. However, it highlights many of the basic key elements and core components required to implement crisis standards of care in a disaster.  The exercise was constructed from the 2011 FEMA Disaster Scenario for Community Planning in response to a catastrophic earthquake.  The goal is to introduce students to emergency response capability, both as a team-based effort and also to gain understanding of specific professional roles that may become significant in an emergency situation. 

For more information, contact Patricia Shane at patricia.shane@tu.edu.

Note: David Lipin’s position and professional affiliations:
Unit Commander, DMAT CA-6
HHS= U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services
ASPR = Office the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
OEM = Office of Emergency Medicine
NDMS = National Disaster Medical System