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Council & Ulster University team up to prepare for climate change

26 February 2019

Derry City and Strabane District Council has teamed up with nursing students from Ulster University to increase awareness of the role healthcare professionals have in helping communities prepare for the impact of storms, heatwaves and flooding due to climate change.

Council, which is leading on a cutting-edge climate adaptation plan for the District area, informed the final year nursing students of climate projections over the next few years and how they can help local people in these emergency situations.

Climate Programme Manager, Cathy Burns said: “Climate change is happening at a much faster rate than was anticipated with the latest projections showing global warming at +1.5degrees celsius above pre- industrial levels from the next 5 years onwards. The repercussions of this locally will mean hotter, wetter weather, a greater risk of flooding, storms and heatwaves. In such situations, healthcare providers play a vital role in terms of emergency response and treating people injured by such incidents.

“We are really delighted to be collaborating with Ulster University on this project, equipping the next generation of nurses with the necessary knowledge about climate change and its practical impacts.

“As a local authority we have a dedicated taskforce aimed at making us more resilient to climate change. This includes improving our green infrastructure, helping communities become more prepared in terms of emergency planning and ensuring that climate adaptation is included in our community planning.”

Pat Deeny, Senior Lecturer in Nursing at Magee and Exercise Co-Ordinator, said: “Ulster University conducts a major community resilience and disaster response simulation exercise every year. This is a mix of live simulation and command and control events that are used to test the leadership and decision making skills of final year nursing students in crisis, disasters and catastrophic situations. This year is our biggest exercise ever with 16 scenarios running simultaneously across the day. 400 participants will be at the Magee campus, making it the biggest ever nursing simulation run in Ireland.  

“We have involvement from Council, Health and Social Care Trusts, PSNI, NIAS, Red Cross, Medical Reserve, St John Ambulance, Foyle Search and Rescue, Schools of Creative Arts and Humanities, Social and Policy Science and School of Media at Ulster.  All our scenarios are closely linked to Community Resilience Plans developed by Council Emergency Planning and cover topics such as flooding, public health emergencies, mass casualty events, fire and community evacuation, nursing home evacuation and community response to suicide. This year we are teaming up with Council to examine emergences caused by climate change such as heat exhaustion, Lyme’s disease and flooding.”

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