Students and Officials Conduct Community Emergency Response Exercise

EKU Homeland Security students recently joined staff at the Madison County Emergency Operations Center for a joint disaster management exercise. Students in HLS 451: Disaster Preparedness and Response and HLS 461: Mitigation and Disaster Recovery worked with select county and university personnel during a mock earthquake scenario.

Officials participating included Emergency Manager Gary Folckemer with the EKU Division of Public Safety. “Our goal here was to give the students a very real look into what goes in to training delivery and exercise conduct. I think we did that well, and I hope it gave the students valuable insight into some of what they will do in their future careers,” said Folckemer.

Working in teams, the students got a firsthand look at the different emergency support functions required and the tasks and responsibilities associated with each role.

In one corner, an initial response team had just 8 minutes to assess the situation and begin a response. They were particularly concerned about the speed and direction of the wind because some of the buildings damaged contained chemicals.

In an adjacent room, Suhail Alshamsi, a Homeland Security major from United Arab Emirates worked with a team of students preparing to brief the public at a news conference. Guided by the center’s staff, they discussed whether remarks should be made by the mayor, the chief information officer or both.

“I made a list of the main talking points,” said Alshamsi. “It’s important that people not disturb the work of the first responders and that they stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary.”

Nearby, an emergency medical care student led the health and medical team. Another focused on HAZMAT. Another team talked about rebuilding in phases so that people get back into their homes as soon as possible.

Dr. Chad Foster, an assistant professor in the EKU homeland security and emergency management, helped organize the activity. In addition to teaching, Foster has prior experience in the field. He previously worked as a Federal Emergency Management Agency contractor. “It’s incredibly valuable for the students to connect with people in the field and work through these processes. We are fortunate to have professionals in Richmond who want to share their knowledge,” he said.  

Published on May 13, 2016