University of South Florida


Community members learn CPR

Educating for emergencies: USF nursing professor hosts active shooter and mass casualty training program for the community

Active shooter and mass casualty events occur too frequently, prompting an urgent dialogue about prevention and response strategies. Following a rise in church shootings in 2021, Dr. Janet Roman, a professor at the University of South Florida (USF) College of Nursing (CON), initiated efforts to educate and equip the community for these crises.

Dr. Janet Roman speaks to attendees.

Dr. Janet Roman leads post-simulation discussion with attendees.

“I am trained in all these processes and in how to save a life, but I realized that if I were in a church where something happened… I can’t save everybody,” says Roman.

It was this thought that inspired her active shooter preparedness program. In collaboration with the Largo Police Department (LPD), Roman designed a community event that went beyond the scope of typical active shooter training by adding and emphasizing healthcare education and crisis management.

After learning the essentials of how to navigate an active shooter scenario with LPD, attendees continue to medical training with the USF Medical Response Unit and CON students. They train on AED’s, CPR, how to stop the bleed, de-escalating frantic patients, and triaging mass casualty victims. This hands-on training culminates in an active shooter mass casualty simulation led by the USF CON Simulation Team.

For this scenario, the simulation team utilizes moulage, or wounds designed with makeup, on actors simulating patients to create a realistic and stressful environment.

“Realistic wounds create a high-fidelity, controlled environment that makes training feel real, eliciting genuine responses,” says Julie Fitzsimmons, USF CON Simulations Operations Assistant and Licensed Cosmetologist. “Participants engage more deeply, react instinctively, and develop practical trauma management skills.”

Participant asseses patient during mass casualty simuation.

Participant asseses patient during mass casualty simuation.

In a successful simulation, attendees can clearly communicate to first responders which patients needed help first. After analysis of the 2022 event, Roman found that 97% of attendees reported an increased confidence in communicating with their patient and relaying information to other providers on scene.

Roman has presented on her program and its finding to Southern Nursing Research Society and the American Association of Heart Failure Nurses. After concluding her third event earlier this June, Roman looks forward to sharing the data and continuing to educate the community.

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