Students from USD’s School of Health Sciences and Sanford School of Medicine majoring in medical, nursing, physician assistant, social work, clinical lab science, occupational therapy, physical therapy and dental hygiene programs as well as South Dakota State University pharmacy students and nursing practice doctorate students will receive one-of-a-kind training in disaster preparation. Curriculum to be taught includes the Core Disaster Life Support® Version 3.0 course – one of the National Disaster Life Support (NDLS) program courses provided by the American Medical Association and the National Disaster Life Support Foundation, Inc. Additional instruction includes breakout sessions in Triage, Immunizations, Anaphylaxis and SIM-SD, Psychology First Aid, and SERV-SD and Point of Dispensing (POD) assignments.

“It’s critical for students to learn this type of training, especially if they work in a rural health care setting,” stated Dr. Janet Lindemann, dean of medical student education, Sanford School of Medicine, who noted South Dakota leads the nation in disaster preparedness training and collaboration. “In a state like South Dakota, where severe weather and other dangers often occur year round, time is an issue and that’s why it’s so important that we incorporate training for all health care professions.”

Disaster Preparedness Day is a collaborative effort of the South Dakota Department of Health, the Sanford School of Medicine of the University of South Dakota, the University of South Dakota School of Health Sciences, South Dakota State University, the Regional Training Center for Upper Midwest and the Yankton Rural Area Health Education Center (AHEC).

“Students attending this daylong session will receive some of the best disaster preparation training in the Midwest,” explained Bill Chalcraft, Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response. Chalcraft says instruction in the past was provided by trainers and educators from around the country, however, this year’s program will be provided by South Dakota NDLS trainers. “The Yankton Rural AHEC recently received its own Regional Training Certificate (the Regional Training Center for Upper Midwest) after nine individuals traveled to Ohio to become NDLS certified,” he added.

Dr. Matthew Owens of Redfield, S.D., was instrumental in developing the Disaster Training Program for medical students a decade ago and has long supported the development of a Regional Training Center for the National Disaster Life Support Foundation in South Dakota.

“In South Dakota, a snowstorm, a flood, an accident involving a school bus or multiple vehicles is a disaster,” explained Owens, Medical Director of the National Disaster Life Support Foundation in South Dakota. “Because of flooding, winter weather and other potential disastrous weather conditions, South Dakota has had disaster declarations in multiple counties eight times during the past two years. We haven’t seen the type of disaster as they did in Joplin, Mo., but we sure could.”

Disaster Preparedness Day at USD is made possible by South Dakota Department of Health funds and a three-year HRSA grant for Rural Experiences for Health Professionals Students (REHPS) to the Yankton Rural AHEC.

For more information about South Dakota Disaster Preparedness Training, please contact Kassy Youmans, REHPS Program Manager, Yankton, S.D., at (605) 655-1400. To learn more about the NDLS program, please visit or

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