Volunteers line-up for wellness checks during Lander University’s mock health emergency exercise on April 17. The university conducts annual disaster preparedness drills on campus.
Lander University recently held a campus-wide disaster drill to test its ability to respond to health emergencies.
The event on April 17 was directed by Lander’s Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) Activity Group, the only university-based MRC in South Carolina.
Dr. Robbie South, director of Lander’s William Preston Turner School of Nursing, described the scenario as a simulated outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which, in real life, causes victims to suffer severe respiratory infections. She described the drill as a closed point of dispensing (POD) exercise, which qualifies Lander to distribute anti-viral medications to students, faculty and staff as a preventive measure, and to refer those with MERS symptoms for medical treatment. Closed PODS are designed to reduce the demand on public health dispensing sites.
Lander nursing students, nursing faculty and clinical instructors played leading roles in the exercise. Participants also included MRC volunteers, members of the university’s safety office, Wellness Center, the Lander Police Department, the Campus Emergency Response Team, and resident assistants.
Students from Presbyterian College School of Pharmacy, who work jointly with Lander’s School of Nursing in interprofessonal education activities, also participated.
As part of the drill, students, faculty and staff who were screened and designated to play the role as having MERS “symptoms” were referred for further medical treatment. Those who were designated as “asymptomatic” received candy representing preventive medications and face masks. There was also a team of professionals available to provide psychological counseling. Other volunteers conducted wellness checks in the university’s Centennial Hall residence hall.
Personnel from the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) collaborated with Lander in planning and observing the drill. There were also observers from Greenwood School District 50, which is also classified as a closed POD. South said the two-hour exercise was followed by an evaluation. She added, “We wanted to talking about what we did well and what we might improve.”