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Nursing Students Travel to Scenes of Hurricane to Help

Posted on September 22nd, 2005

Assistant Professor of Nursing Don Tyson reports that all students arrived home safely on Friday, Sept. 30. The group will share their experiences with the campus community in the near future. While on-site the group focused on health-related work because many hurricane victims have been without medications from days to weeks.

About two dozen nursing students from EMU and neighboring James Madison University left Harrisonburg
early on Sept. 19 for the Gulf Coast to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The EMU senior nursing students and two nursing faculty members from EMU and 17 students and one professor from JMU traveled by bus to a Red Cross "disbursement center" in Montgomery, Ala. From there, they were given assignments in either Louisiana or Mississippi.

The group has now finished their Red Cross orientation. Donald L. Tyson, a registered nurse and assistant professor of nursing at EMU, reports it is a massive operation with about 100 volunteers going through the center everyday. Their group has been assigned to Red Cross Service Centers about 120 miles north of New Orleans. The relief teams are now anticipating the arrival of large groups of displaced people from Texas. At the service centers the students and faculty members will be doing health assessments and especially targeting persons with high blood pressure and diabetes (very common in the
region).

"It wasn’t clear before we left exactly where we’ll be going," said Tyson before the group’s departure. "But we’re likely to be doing community health assessments, referrals and public health teaching as Red Cross volunteers." The agency is providing transportation, housing and meals for the group.

The EMU nursing students are Kara Glick, Amanda Maust, Monica Hensley, Aaron Schmucker, Hadley Jenner, Carla Simmons-Wulin, Emily Dye and Cara Salmon along with Tyson and Klassen.

"It will be a life-altering, practical learning experience (for the nursing students)," said Donna Trimm, an assistant professor of nursing at
JMU.

The students will be required to make up missed class work upon their return to their respective campuses Sept. 30.

In an e-mail message to the campus community just prior to departure, Tyson said, "We ask your prayers for us and for the people we will be
touching during this time."

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