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Disaster Training Prepares Health Care Students to Serve South Dakota Communities

One student has a leg wrapped in gauze while two others look on during a simulated emergency during Disaster Day. Over 350 students participated in the 11th Disaster Training Day on Feb. 28 to learn how to assist a community if a disaster strikes.

VERMILLION, S.D. – A unique program recently held at the University of South Dakota prepared students in health professions programs from three South Dakota universities to assist local communities in the state if a disaster strikes.

Over 350 health care students from USD, Dakota Wesleyan University and South Dakota State University participated in Disaster Training Day on Feb. 28. The students represented 11 health care disciplines at the different universities.

Fifty instructors from USD, Dakota Wesleyan University, the South Dakota Department of Health, Sanford and Avera health systems, and other institutions shared practices and knowledge with the students. The event was managed by the Yankton Rural Area Health Education Center, a program created and sponsored by the USD Sanford School of Medicine. Funding for the event was provided by the South Dakota Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response.

Every student who participated in the training can earn certification in Core Disaster Life Support (CDLS) from the National Disaster Life Support Foundation (NDLSF). The 2020 training was the 11th year the training has been conducted. Over 3,000 students have participated in the training, and more than 2,000 have been certified by NDLSF. Past participates have aided communities around the state in the immediate aftermath of tornadoes, flooding, blizzards and other disasters that threaten public safety and health. 


USD's Sanford School of Medicine is nationally known for excellence. With its award-winning curriculum, the school prepares medical students to practice in all fields of medicine and is particularly recognized and ranked for its reputation in family medicine and rural medicine. In addition to the M.D., it offers graduate degrees in basic biomedical science, sustains a vibrant and forward-looking research agenda, and is home to the interdisciplinary Center for Brain and Behavioral Research.


USD’s School of Health Sciences is a national leader in interprofessional health sciences education. South Dakota’s comprehensive School of Health Sciences develops scholars, practitioners and leaders in health and human services, including addiction counselors, dental hygienists, health science practitioners, medical laboratory scientists, nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, physician assistants, public health practitioners and social workers.


Hanna DeLange
USD News