The study purpose was to examine the refl ections of the lived experiences of nurses in shelters or temporary community medical clinics responding for the fi rst time to a civilian disaster. The disaster-nursing literature echoes the need for development of disaster content in the nursing curriculum. However, little thematic analysis-supporting curriculum from the lived experience of fi rst-time responders exists in the literature. This study’s purpose is to identify the essential thematic knowledge and skills necessary to provide care to disaster survivors in communities and for determining the themes necessary to formulate education in emergency preparedness curricula. A narrative inquiry, with a phenomenological analysis, to explore the lived experiences of nurses who responded once to a community disaster was the methodology used to identify themes. Thematic fi ndings demonstrated a lack of prior knowledge about volunteering during a disaster response, that previous mass casualty exercises did not help with their actual responses, and that the participant RNs identifi ed specifi c and assessment skills necessary for disasters.