UNT HEALTH SCIENCE CENTER CURRICULUM TEACHES MEDICAL STUDENTS TO DEAL WITH NATURAL AND MANMADE DISASTERS

November 12, 2004

On Monday, Nov. 15, more than 2,500 volunteers of all ages participated in a first-of-its-kind disaster preparedness drill. The event, co-sponsored by Tarrant County Public Health, Defenbaugh and Associates and the University of North Health Science Center, occurred at the Texas Motor Speedway along with hospital locations throughout the Metroplex.

The drill, a realistic simulation of a terrorist attack, hit home with first-year medical students at the health science center who are learning to deal with the consequences of bioterrorism and natural disasters through a new class introduced this fall. The course, â??Core Disaster Life Support,â? teaches students the basic tenets of disaster support, including triage, treatment, evacuation, and recovery.

â??The threat of bioterrorism has brought to the forefront the need for medical personnel to be prepared in case of emergency,â? said Bruce Dubin, DO, JD, associate dean for curriculum at the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine. â??We selected this course to ensure that our students are ready to effectively manage care following disasters such as hurricanes, floods, chemical spills and infectious disease outbreaks.â?

TCOM is the first medical school in the nation to have adopted CDLS as part of its first-year curriculum. The four-hour course is offered in a classroom setting. Students become more effective in the recognition and response to medical disasters after having completed the coursework. CDLS focuses on disaster preparedness for first responders and community health care providers, including physicians, nurses and other allied health providers.

CDLS is one of three standardized courses developed by the National Disaster Life Support Educational Consortium, using a federal appropriation managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Members of the consortium include the American Medical Association Center for Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response, the Medical College of Georgia, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, the University of Texas School of Public Health at Houston and the University of Georgia.

The other courses, which are targeted to emergency medical service field and hospital personnel, public health personnel and health care providers, are Basic Disaster Life Support and Advanced Disaster Life Support.

BDLS, an eight-hour lecture course with slides, is currently offered to TCOMâ??s second-year medical students. The class is an extension of CDLS, building on the principles learned. It includes information on traumatic and explosive events, nuclear and radiological weapon attacks, and chemical and biological events.

TCOM plans to implement ADLS in the future. ADLS is a 16-hour class taught over two days. The first day includes lectures on triage, community and hospital disaster planning, media and communications during disasters, and mass facility management. The second day is the culmination of the three classes. Students apply what they have learned in hands-on practice simulations in triage, personal protective equipment and decontamination, disaster skills, and assessment and treatment of victims.

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Contact: Becky Purvis, bpurvis@hsc.unt.edu, 817-735-5152, pager: 817-216-0345

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