You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

440 Des Moines University Students Trained in Disaster Health and Sheltering

User News Image
“If there is a disaster, you will deploy,” said Dr. Polk. “We will deploy with the Red Cross.”

When disaster strikes, you want all the help you can get. The Des Moines Metro area has a lot more help following a first of its kind disaster health training at Des Moines University.
“Normal medical school training teaches you to treat one patient at a time,” said Dr. J.D. Polk, Dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Des Moines University as he addressed a room full of second year medical students. “Disasters can bring hundreds of patients at a time.”
DMU partnered with the American Red Cross to host the mandatory Disaster Health and Sheltering Course for 440 first and second year medical students. The training took students through potential scenarios they may face as health services volunteers for the Red Cross. 
“This class will be as if you are the shelter health team,” explained Dr. Janice Springer as she taught the course. Throughout the day, students worked through disaster shelter scenarios like working with patients with strict medication and dietary needs and providing mass care.
“The interesting part of working during a disaster is the need for help within the first 24 to 48 hours,” said Dr. Polk. “The Red Cross deploys within hours, and that’s what we’re training you for today.”
Preparing for disaster has been a part of Dr. Polk’s DNA for years. Before coming to Des Moines he worked for the Department of Homeland Security making sure the government was ready for disasters, man-made or otherwise.
Planning for the Disaster Health and Sheltering Course took more than a year, but it was worth it to both organizations. The opportunity to potentially bring in more than 400 new Red Cross volunteers turned into the largest disaster health training of its kind in the United States. But more importantly, it created a great resource for Iowa if disaster should strike.
“If there is a disaster, you will deploy,” said Dr. Polk. “We will deploy with the Red Cross.”