By Wendy Sarubbi | January 22, 2013 3:06 pm

The Campus of UCF College of Medicine became a training ground for medical students from across the state on January 12 and 13 as part of the college’s second annual Global Health Conference sponsored by MedPACt (Medical Students Providing Across Continents.) Much of the conference focused on developing emergency skills for medical professionals in training.

The event kicked off with an address from Dr. Eric K. Noji, a physician with 20 years of experience working for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). He detailed his vast experience with emergency and disaster management from the September 11th Terrorist Attacks to Hurricane Katrina. Dr. Noji was followed by Anne Cummings, the Branch Chief of International Response Programs for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She spoke about how students can become involved in disaster preparedness on a local, state, national and global scale.

Later, participants headed outside for a simulated lesson in real disaster. Several UCF College of Medicine students donned makeup from actual movie makeup artists who volunteered their time to make the students look like patients suffering from burns, severe head wounds and lacerations from a simulated bus-car accident. Medical students conducted triage at the scene to determine which victims needed immediate attention. Leading the event was Dr. Adrienne Lawton, an Orlando Health resident who earned her stripes caring for patients in third world countries, including handling triage of victims of the earthquake in Haiti. “Triage is something a little bit different than we learn in a typical classroom setting, and you never know when it’s going to be necessary,” she said. Dr. Lawton said that workshops like that at the college can help young doctors to be better first responders when the need arises.

The conference included learning stations across the Tavistock Green. In one scenario, students counseled a patient/actor who had just lost her leg in an accident. In two other stations, participants treated one of the college’s high-tech computerized mannequins. The two patients had each lost a leg in an accident and were losing blood fast. Thanks to two bilingual UCF College of Medicine students running computers, participants had to overcome a language barrier during a critical care situation when their patients spoke only spoke Arabic or Napali . Students were also trained by Orange County paramedics on safely moving patients, and the challenges of treating patients in heavy fire gear.

Day two included workshops taught by participants in high-profile disasters including Hurricane Sandy and the Haiti Earthquake, as well as an address from Dr. C. Luis Vasquez, the founder of the Yantalo Foundation in Peru. The organization is working to bring the first ‘green’ health care facility to his native country. The facility is designed to provide refuge for those in need during disaster situations, like earthquakes, which are common in the region.

This year’s Global Health Conference was sponsored by Diebel Legacy Fund at Central Florida Foundation and made possible by dozens of faculty physicians, community and student volunteers. Several Lake Nona restaurants also donated food for the event. Dr. Judith Simms-Cendan, director of international health programs and associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, is the program’s faculty adviser. She says the college’s location makes emergency medicine a relevant topic  “Central Florida is well acquainted with the need for disaster relief, both at home and abroad,” she said. “The UCF College of Medicine is well positioned to be an excellent resource for disaster relief education. With the annual risk of hurricanes on the Florida coast, and humanitarian need in countries like Haiti and the Dominican Republic, medical students in the region are learning skills that will be useful now and in the future.”

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