Interprofessional collaboration among first responder students in a simulated disaster exercise




interprofessional education, first responders, disaster simulation, disaster response, disasters, police education, firefighter education


Introduction: Interprofessional disaster simulation exercises provide an opportunity for first responder students to learn about disaster response and recovery, to practice their roles and to learn to collaborate with other first responders. With the move to virtual education during the COVID-19 pandemic, a table-top disaster exercise is an alternative format to in-person exercises. To date, most disaster simulation exercises for students have focused on the roles of healthcare providers. As first responders play a critical role in disaster management, there is a need for interprofessional exercises that include students in first responder programs.

Methods: A table-top disaster simulation exercise was held with students from the police (n = 94) and firefighter (n = 30) programs at a large community college in Toronto, Canada, in February 2021. It was held virtually using the Zoom® platform, with college faculty as well as professionals from community partner sites. An evaluation survey that had open- and closed-ended items was administered to students following the event.

Results: Thirty-eight percent of the students participated in the survey, and the majority rated the event highly useful and reported that the exercise demonstrated the importance of interprofessional collaboration. Students’ responses to the open-ended survey items yielded two themes: understanding roles and performing under duress.

Discussion: This evaluation demonstrates the value of using a simulated disaster exercise to teach first responder students about their role in disaster response and recovery, and the importance of interprofessional collaboration.

Author Biographies

Christopher J. Collins, MSc

School of Community and Health Studies, Centennial College, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Howard Page, BAA

School of Community and Health Studies, Centennial College, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Philip E. Semple, PhD Candidate

School of Community and Health Studies, Centennial College, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Jennifer Innis, NP, PhD

Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada


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How to Cite

Collins, MSc, C. J., H. Page, BAA, P. E. Semple, PhD Candidate, and J. Innis, NP, PhD. “Interprofessional Collaboration Among First Responder Students in a Simulated Disaster Exercise”. Journal of Emergency Management, vol. 20, no. 3, May 2022, pp. 273-8, doi:10.5055/jem.0659.