Nursing students from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Nursing completed two courses at the Center for Domestic Preparedness, April 7.

Forty-seven students were introduced to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive weapons (CBRNE) scenarios and gained hands-on experience with multiple types of equipment used in a mass-casualty response.

The students completed Incident Complexities – Responders Actions for CBRNE Incidents (ICR) course at the CDP after finishing the Standardized Awareness Authorized Training Program (SAT) course the previous week at UAB through the CDP’s non-resident training program.

ICR encompasses mass casualty-related topics and hands-on training with personal protective equipment, instrumentation and techniques, and procedures.

“This is totally new for me,” said Taylor Wiggins, a nursing student. “It is beneficial because a lot of us want to work in emergency care or ICU (intensive care unit) care, and although we might not be the first responders, we will be the secondary. We need to know how to react to these types of incidents.”

UAB nursing students were exposed to several areas of response including patient decontamination, mass-casualty triage, scene survey and sampling . Students were given the opportunity to practice with radiation detection equipment and chemical agent detection kits. Students also learned the steps to decontaminate patients in hazardous situations.

“The hands-on experience makes the simulation more real,” said Sylvia Britt, who has a doctorate in nursing and is an assistant professor at UAB. “Actually seeing it and doing it helps them retain the information.”

UAB School of Nursing recently made ICR and SAT part of the curriculum for new nurses in 2013.

“All of our students in the School of Nursing take their community health course and this is part of the program,” said Britt. “They get clinical hours for the courses.”

It is an important part of the nursing curriculum as evidence by the fact that other schools are bringing in their nursing students from the surrounding areas, said Britt. At the end of this course, more than 100 nursing students have completed ICR and SAT this year.

Currently, 11 nursing colleges are incorporating CDP training into their respective curriculums.

“We don’t know when or where we might run into a situation when we would need to use this type of information,” said Britt.

Having the CDP training gives the students an introduction to what they may encounter at the hospitals where they will work, said Britt.

“I do feel like I am better able to grasp these concepts especially going into the workforce,” said Wiggins. “So now going to a hospital I feel better prepared to serve the population and the patients.”

The CDP plays a leading role in preparing state, local and tribal responders to prepare for and respond to manmade events or major accidents involving mass casualties. CDP training is fully funded for tribal, state, and local response personnel. Round-trip air and ground transportation, lodging, and meals are provided at no cost to responders or their agency or jurisdiction. Federal personnel may also attend the numerous training programs offered at CDP. To learn more about the Center for Domestic Preparedness, visit or call 866-213-9553 or to learn more about the VHA visit You can also visit the CDP on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn