Largest Disaster Health Training in U.S. Hosted at Des Moines University

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DES MOINES, Iowa - If a disaster struck the Metro, you can count on at least 440 Des Moines University medical students to know how to provide relief.

"We're in the tornado belt. You know, we're in the flood belt," said J.D. Polk, Dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Des Moines University. "Things happen here in Iowa, and the Red Cross responds, usually within hours. And the nice part about having students here who are educated in medicine is they can volunteer with the Red Cross, they can respond with the Red Cross. And it's educational for them to actually see patients out in the field."

Partnering with the American Red Cross, Des Moines University hosted a mandatory disaster health training seminar for first and second-year medical students Friday. Students sat in small groups at tables throughout the Olsen Center, walking through scenarios provided to them from the Red Cross.

Examples of scenarios the students had to work through included working with patients with strict medication and dietary needs, patients who own pets and don't want to separate from them, and dealing with scenarios of working in disaster shelters, providing mass relief. Students in attendance say they're happy their curriculum at DMU requires them to go through this type of training.

"If you're just out in public and something really bad happens, it would just be nice to know that I have this confidence, that I've been trained in this area," said Keile Wahle, a first-year medical student. "To be able to address it, versus just standing there as an innocent by-stander."

The program ran a morning session for 220 second-year medical students, and an afternoon session for 220 first-year students.