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Ascension, Tulsa Tech mimic mass casualty incident at Owasso hospital: ‘It definitely opened my eyes’

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For Megan Blair, impersonating a gunshot victim in an active shooter simulation last week left her with a heightened sense of knowledge and awareness.

“It definitely opened my eyes,” said Blair, who was among several Tulsa Tech nursing students to participate in the school’s inaugural mass casualty training and assessment exercise at Ascension St. John Owasso last Tuesday afternoon.

“I never experienced, thank God, anything like this in real life, but seeing that it’s more common nowadays, it was nice to be able to kind of see … how things should work in those situations.”

Gabriel Griffin, another simulated victim, added, “I got to see how chaotic it can be, especially on the hospital side. Trying to think through, ‘If I were in this situation as a nurse … how do I help to streamline this process,’ I think that experience will really help translate to practicing in the future.”

Blair and Griffin were bused to the hospital from the Tulsa Tech Owasso campus with others from their nursing class who assumed different roles — from victims and family members to nurses and first responders — during the two-hour controlled disaster drill. The exercise focused on patient and team member safety, communication, security and response, and involved hospital staff and security as well as Owasso police and fire crews with varying responsibilities.

Dana Chandler, practical nursing coordinator at Tulsa Tech, led Tuesday’s effort in the wake of recent tragedies like the mass shootings at Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa and Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

“This is an opportunity for our students to learn, not only from a victim perspective, but also from a professional perspective,” Chandler said, “what that would look like in an actual disaster where we have a large amount of victims coming into the facility.”

That scenario struck an emotional chord with Kyeria Cabbagestalk, who imitated a distraught family member that demanded immediate information from hospital staff upon entering the emergency department.

“I just took it as if it was an actual event, if it was an actual family member that was actually mine,” Cabbagestalk said. “I just kind of went out there with my heart into it, and I love my family, so I showed that.”

Her authentic reaction to her family’s emergency was one of many that contributed to the success of Tuesday’s drill, according to Ascension St. John Owasso President Wyatt Hockmeyer.

“It really did mimic what a true community event would be like,” Hockmeyer said. “Watching the team go into action really takes away a lot of the concerns that you have … so it’s really comforting to see how they rise to the occasion when an emergency occurs.”

Ascension will apply the lessons learned in this week’s training toward future drills at all its Tulsa-area sites, including its $26 million, 40-bed inpatient rehabilitation hospital under construction nearly two miles south on 86th Street.

Likewise, Tulsa Tech plans to incorporate the same takeaways into its nursing program districtwide.

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