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NMSU Extension, UNM College of Nursing partner in emergency preparedness program

ALBUQUERQUE – Two programs provided by New Mexico State University and the University of New Mexico designed to help educate the public about living a better life are joining efforts.


NMSU’s Bernalillo County Cooperative Extension Service and the UNM College of Nursing’s community nursing class are collaborating in providing informational workshops on emergency preparedness for homes with medically fragile family members.

“We are seeing a transition in health care where more and more people with chronic conditions, and conditions that previously were acute and needing to be in a hospital, are being discharged into the home setting,” said LeeAnna Vargas, UNM College of Nursing community nursing instructor.

Because of this trend, family and neighbors are taking a larger role in helping the patient, especially in an emergency situation that could range from extended power outage to evacuation because of a natural disaster such as fire or flood.

“We, as a community, need to be aware of how to help our neighbors who are in those situations,” said Cindy Davies, NMSU Bernalillo County Extension interim program director and creator of an emergency preparedness workshop series.

While Davies is an NMSU faculty member, she said her degree in home economics does not prepare her to teach medical topics.

“I didn’t feel comfortable, nor do I have the expertise to teach what people need to do to help a medically fragile person,” Davies said. “We needed someone with medical care knowledge to teach this preparedness unit. So we have collaborated with UNM’s College of Nursing to provide trainers on this subject.”

Community nursing is one of the required classes to obtain a nursing degree. Vargas said the students are required to perform 96 hours of clinical experience each semester of their five semesters of education.

“Clinical experience gives the students the opportunity to get out in the community and function as a professional nurse while being supervised,” Vargas said. “Working with NMSU Bernalillo County Extension is a good learning opportunity for my students, because they will learn about issues their patients could be dealing with outside of the hospital.”

When Davies and Vargas each became aware of the other’s program, they saw an opportunity to work together on other workshop topics.

“There are other issues that will come up over time that this collaboration can address,” Davies said. “We are planning to offer first aid to our 4-H members and other groups.”

NMSU’s Bernalillo County Extension office offers a series of workshops on emergency preparedness. Visit bernalilloextension.nmsu.edu for a list of upcoming classes.