University of Louisville Magazine

WINTER-SPRING 2018

The University of Louisville Alumni Magazine: for alumni, faculty, staff, students and anyone that is a UofL Cardinal fan.

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25 WINTER/SPRING 2018 O n a cool, fall morning, more than a dozen medical students lay on the lawn in front of Ekstrom Library. Some moaned as if in pain, others called for help. Their classmates ran to their aid, determining the medical urgency of their feigned injuries. The students were training for a mass casualty situation as part of the Uof L Disaster Medicine Certificate Series (DMCS). The only course of its kind for medical students, DMCS allows the future physicians to learn how to respond to large-scale emergencies. The course grew out of student Madison Kommor's own desire to help in case of an emergency. "I hope I never have to respond to a disaster situation, but I was tired of sitting in a library waiting for someone to teach me what to do if something happens," said Kommor, a third- year Uof L medical student. Recent hurricanes that battered coastal areas and the Las Vegas shooting bolstered interest in the program, offered for the first time this academic year. More than 65 second-year medical students signed up and have participated in various training courses. "A lot of students got excited about it. They want to be useful, but they need to be trained," said Bethany Hodge, assistant professor of pediatrics and a faculty advisor for DMCS. Students attend any of a wide array of training events such as the mass casualty training conducted by the United States Army, instruction in medical countermea- sures by the Louisville Metro Department of Health & Wellness, or by enrolling in the Medical Reserve Corps. They then earn a certificate indicating they have experience with emergency response systems. "My hope is that we have people with the mindset for disaster preparedness," Hodge said. "No matter what type of physician they become, they are able to support the systems that deal with natural and man-made disasters." UofL medical students practice disaster drills. Med students training for disaster As this year's volatile Atlantic hurricane s eason progressed, Montray Smith knew it was a question of when — not if — she would be called to help . Smith, a UofL School of Nursing assis- tant professor, deployed to Puerto Rico with a federal Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) for two weeks in the fall to provide medical care in the wake of Hurri- canes Irma and Maria. Part of the National Disaster Medi- cal System, DMATs across the country are made up of physicians, nurse practitioners, paramedics and other health care profes- sionals who leave their regular jobs and quickly mobilize to provide medical aid when local and state resources are over- whelmed after natural disasters or terrorist attacks. They also prepare to respond to major national events, including presiden- tial inaugurations, if an emergency arises. "Most health care providers want to jump in and help during a disaster, and that's what we get to do," said Smith, who has been a member of the DMAT based in Jacksonville, Florida, for 15 years. Smith's DMAT, along with personnel from the U.S. Public Health Service and non-gov- ernmental agencies, set up a federal medical station in Bayamón and treated 150-200 people every day at a similar sta- tion in Manatí. "The patients were incredibly resilient. They did what they had to do to survive," Smith said. "Their infrastructure is gone and it's going to be a long time before the island recovers from the storms." Still lacking electricity in their homes, some patients needed power to oper- ate ventilators and feeding tube machines. Most were treated for conditions related to mold exposure, including pink eye, asthma, nausea and vomiting. Critical patients were stabilized and transported by the Army to local hospitals. UofL Nursing professor heads to Puerto Rico after hurricanes wreak havoc Calm and care after the storms No matter what type of physician they become, they are able to support the systems that deal with natural and man-made disasters.

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