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RU Students Go Behind the Scenes for Emergency Management Experience

RADFORD -- From their unique perspective as observers, members of Stephen Owen’s emergency management class gained first-hand experience Monday about emergency management.

The 31-member seminar class participated in the training exercise held by RU’s Office of Emergency Preparedness in McConnell Library that simulated a bomb threat and required the evacuation of approximately 140 students and staff.

McConnell library evacuated as part of the drill

“Now that I have seen how it works, it is amazing to see the many agencies work together,” said Anthony Rowlette, a criminal justice graduate student from Radford, who was an observer in the emergency operations center. “The capacity of what they can get done in a short amount of time is impressive.”

Designed by Owen, associate professor of criminal justice, and Dennie Templeton, RU’s director of emergency preparedness, the course is the university’s first devoted to presenting a contemporary interdisciplinary approach to emergency management.

"The course can really benefit students, regardless of the fields they enter after graduation, as many professions are devoting an increased amount of attention to emergency planning," said Owen. "The field has its own unique vocabulary and concepts that extend beyond traditional criminal justice perspectives."

The class requires each student to complete Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) ICS-100 training, FEMA’s basic emergency management certification. Owen said the curriculum also focuses on analyzing case studies of past events such as the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, the 1995 Chicago heat waves and the Mississippi River flooding in the Midwest in 1993.

Monday’s simulated incident at the library will be scrutinized by the class, along with Templeton and emergency planner Todd Branscome as part of the standard post-event debriefing.

“I was able to observe the arrival of the law enforcement personnel and it was clear that they were treating the exercise like a real operation,” said Ryan McCormick, a junior from Culpeper, whose station was outside the library.

Johnathan West, a junior from Yorktown, who was embedded with the RU Police Department, reflected on how the classroom lessons and the exercise met. “After just four classes, we’ve learned how responders must remain cool and the responders today were very professional,” West said.

Maggie Price, a senior from Independence, was an observer inside the library and she recounted some communication confusion where her party was told by one person to go up the stairs and another told them to go down.

“The exercise and the class are both something that I think everyone should have,” Price added. “You need to know the steps and processes.”

October 7, 2010
Don Bowman; 540-831-7523

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