SFA, UT-Tyler team up in emergency drill

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Superstorm Sandy and the nor'easter are real-life reminders to be prepared for the unexpected.

Thursday, two East Texas universities did just that.

SFA and UT-Tyler nursing departments participated in a joint regional disaster drill.

Community nursing students have fun with their role playing. There's a drunk, a confused elderly person and a host of other characters representing the kind of people you see in a real disaster.

"These are patients who come from nursing homes, who are bedridden, some of them in wheelchairs, diabetes, all sorts of different problems," Dr. Della Connor said. "We are also evacuating special needs facilities, so these are your patients who have mental illness, who also have chemical dependencies."

The scenario is an approaching wildfire. Since Katrina, Texas has a goal to move people out within a 12-hour window of an approaching crisis.

Fortunately, the Texas Department of Health now has a NASA tracking system.

So when evacuees load the Palestine regional evacuation ambulance they're kept up with while on their trip to Tyler, where UT-Tyler community nursing students are on ready to receive their displaced patients.

"They will be triaging the group as they come in and will care for them as if they will be caring for regular special needs," said Rebecca Fountain of the UT-Tyler nursing department.

It's to teach the students, but it's also to protect you.

"These students will be prepared to actually jump in and help their communities," Fountain said.

It's a hands-on learning experience which provides a few laughs along the way, but brings very serious results.

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