AU nursing students learn how to deal with critical patients

(Harold) When it comes to a disaster, lives can depend on how quickly emergency personnel respond and how well they know how to do their jobs.

That’s why Anderson University junior nursing students practiced a tornado disaster scenario and then hung out with St. Vincent’s StatFlight Team this week.

The students were out at Saint John’s Medical Center on Thursday afternoon to receive a quick lesson from flight nurse Shelby Wray and check out the equipment used.

“It’s just awesome,” nursing student Jane Krick said. “This is the epitome of nursing.”

Wray explained how a nurse really needs intensive care and emergency room experience to learn how to treat all sorts of patients from trauma to cardiac to pediatric patients because they never know who they’ll get.

A StatFlight team is made up of the pilot, obviously, and a critical care nurse and critical care paramedic who must have extensive experience in their fields, receive a variety of certifications and complete hundreds of hours of continued education every year.

“I feel like you should always have a bit of flutter in your chest, be a little nervous, a little shaky because these patients are really sick,” Wray told the students. And they’re depending on a flight team to get them where they need to be safely.

Sarah Neal, professor of nursing, said AU brings the students out to the helicopter once every year; this year after a tornado disaster scenario.

“It allows them to put into practice what they learn in the classroom,” she said.

It’s a med surge class that teaches them how to react to critical patients such as those in an ICU or ER and teaches them a little bit of the psychology needed to deal with disasters, Neal said. Similar courses were implemented in many colleges’ curriculum after Sept. 11, 2001, she said.

“We’re learning what we need to know in a disaster area,” Krick said.

How to get people out quickly and safely in those sort of scenarios.

Krick said they had to go into the lab in the dark and find bodies. It was stressful and felt realistic as they ran around with flashlights and cellphones for light, she said.

Student Emily Williams was especially excited because she wants to be a flight nurse someday.

Williams said they can do more than many other nurses can and that she likes the idea of going out to a disaster zone and helping people.

“I like the adrenaline rush,” she said. “I’m an adrenaline junkie.”

She actually started off wanting to be in pediatrics or oncology, but after she got into rotations, said she now wants to get into the ER and then flight.

Wray herself said she wanted a job where a doctor wasn’t always telling her what to do because she felt she had worked hard enough and had the knowledge to do what was needed.

She works two days a week for 24 hours at a time and typically sees a flight a day, but there are obviously slow days and fast days, as well.

Some students were supposed to visit the helicopter Tuesday, but didn’t get the chance because the flight team had to go out on a run. They could, however, head to Saint John’s Thursday if they didn’t have clinicals.