Prepared for the Worst

Terrorism has changed America’s way of thinking, and it has also changed the way OBU is preparing its student nurses. And for Cindy Rieger, R.N., M.S., C.N.S., OBU assistant professor of nursing, volunteering to direct the Oklahoma Nurses Association disaster preparedness committee was something she approached enthusiastically.

“I am involved because I like planning, mostly. I have been working with ONA because after 9-11 we knew that we needed to do more as far as volunteer manpower. We established a task force and now we have a board. We received a Medical Reserve Corps grant and received $50,000 a year for three years. This grant has allowed the ONA to be involved in establishing a nurse alert system in Oklahoma. It helps to organize the volunteer nursing manpower response in the event of a catastrophic disaster,” she says.

There are approximately 31,000 registered nurses and licensed practical nurses in the state of Oklahoma. And it was after the Oklahoma City Murrah Building bombing and 9-11 that ONA saw the need for more medical volunteers. “Terrorism has changed the way we look at things. For example, we are now having to train our nurses to give small pox vaccines. We have never had to do this before. Giving these shots is different because they are given with a bifurcated (two-pronged) needle. All of our senior nursing students are certified by the State Health Department to administer these vaccines.”

In addition, OBU’s curriculum has expanded, says Cindy. “We need our nurses to be more prepared for catastrophic events whether they be through acts of terrorism or Mother Nature like the hurricanes in Florida.” Senior nursing students also are certified in disaster health services by a member of the Disaster Nursing Council in Oklahoma , who is also a National Red Cross nurse.

Although the process has been long  they have been working since October 2001  Cindy feels that OBU’s nursing students will be prepared if the need arises.