Mexican Government Selects USF Health for Disaster Response Training

Recent natural disasters exemplify Mexico’s need for a stronger emergency plan

TAMPA, Fla. (Dec. 8, 2017)- The University of South Florida’s Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (CAMLS) was selected by the Federal Government of Mexico to train its top critical care and emergency department physicians for disaster response.

USF Health surgeon Dr. Luis Llerena (center), medical director of the Surgical and Interventional Training Center at CAMLS, speaks to Mexican physician leaders visiting CAMLS for a special training program in how to respond to natural disasters and other situations with potential for mass casualties.

CAMLS is one of the world’s largest, freestanding simulation facilities exclusively dedicated to training health care professionals in virtually any medical environment. It features surgical skills labs, operating trauma suites and patient exam rooms.

The Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS) hired CAMLS to design a special training program for handling mass casualty/injury situations, such as natural disasters. The IMSS is a federal agency, similar to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

CAMLS laboratories were set up simulating disaster zones to train top critical care and emergency department physicians from hospitals across Mexico.

The 29 selected physicians represent hospitals from across Mexico, including Mexico City, where hundreds were killed in September from a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. One of the Mexican physicians being trained at CAMLS witnessed his own 400-bed hospital evacuated due to structural damage caused by that earthquake.

“After the earthquake, we had no emergency plan in place,” said Dr. Jorge Ayon Aguilar from San Alejandro Hospital in Puebla, Mexico. “This wonderful course will help us establish our internal disaster plan.”

These physician leaders are now better prepared to respond to catastrophes and perform lifesaving procedures such as when a victim’s lung collapses, they stop breathing or lose a limb. Information learned at CAMLS will be shared with their home institutions and throughout IMSS.

The trainees included doctors from Mexico City, where hundreds were killed in September from a 7.1 magnitude earthquake.

“We are proud that IMSS selected USF Health CAMLS to deliver this critical training at such a relevant time,” said USF Health CAMLS CEO Carole Post. “As trauma situations continue to occur around the world, the need for health care professionals to refine their trauma and emergency response techniques and skills is more critical than ever. USF CAMLS is well-positioned to provide this type of true-to-life training, as we are doing for IMSS, and can do for others around the globe. Simply put, this program teaches the skills to save lives.”

Video by Freddie Coleman, USF Health Communications and Marketing. Photos by Freddie Coleman and Andre Nelson, USF Health CAMLS