Dr. Janet Lindemann, dean of Medical Student Education at Sanford School of Medicine of The University of South Dakota, oversaw the development of the program to fortify the state’s existing medical system and prevent it from being overwhelmed during a time of crisis. "The idea for the training developed because we were looking for people with medical skills who would be available to be rapidly deployed in an emergency. It occurred to us that our students who are learning to be health care providers are the perfect group," said Lindemann.

This unique training program, sponsored by the South Dakota Physician Leadership Initiative and the South Dakota Department of Health, teaches basic skills which will help them aid emergency professionals in case of a disaster. "Through this collaborative effort, our students are going to learn how to prepare for and assist with a variety of disasters. In the event of a flu pandemic or bioterrorist attack, it might be necessary to immunize many or all of the state’s citizens in a hurry. These students would be ready to go to designated places called PODS, for Points of Dispensing, and do this. And, of course, here in South Dakota, we have to be thinking about blizzards and tornadoes. Many of the principles they are learning, such as triaging mass casualties, would apply in any of these situations," said Lindemann.

In addition, students complete an online national disaster life support course, learn to implement an emergency incident command system and utilize emergency communications networks. Upon completion of the program, participants receive a certificate designating them as available to respond to sudden health crises in South Dakota.

For more information, please contact Lindemann at Sanford School of Medicine at Janet.Lindemann@usd.edu.

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