Class to prepare nursing students for terrorist attacks

Healthy Times,
Summer 2003



As the threat of terrorism grows, so does the importance of preparing for a potential attack. Because that’s especially true for health care providers, who would be among the first to respond to such a disaster, the McAuley School of Nursing will offer a new course this fall, "Terrorism and Community Responsiveness: The Nurse’s Role."

"If, God forbid, our graduates find themselves in a terrorist situation, we want them to be ready with more than duct tape and plastic," says Assistant Professor of Nursing Pam Nelson.

The course will examine how nurses can help their communities prepare for and respond to a terrorist attack, particularly one involving chemical, biological or radiation exposure. Students will evaluate community disaster plans, practice effective crisis communication skills, and learn stress management techniques for emergency situations. They also will explore the spiritual and emotional needs of victims.

"It’s more than just prayer, although that’s an important part of it," explains Nelson. "It’s also dealing with the victim’s need to find meaning in the event, and intervening in a way that gets to that need."

Nelson developed the elective class, with assistance from nursing students Jennifer Viggiano and Sheila Thacker.