Simulation event provides practical learning experience
Connections between concepts and theories discussed in class gave way to their application in a simulated emergency response scenario on April 19 and 24.
Inside the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at Radford University, criminal justice students had their abilities tested through an evolving and expansive scenario about an active shooter. Community professionals attended both days of the exercise to help students roleplaying numerous agencies apply best practices.
Department of Criminal Justice Chair and Professor Steve Owen said that he wanted the students to see the connections between theory and practice so students understand how concepts are applied in their professional fields.
“They were communicating, thinking critically, thinking of appropriate strategies and tactics and doing it all within the context of best practices in emergency management,” Owen said.
Chris Haynie from Yorktown, who roleplayed the The Radford University Police Department, said that communication between each of the roles was critical to the response to the evolving situation.
“One thing I tried to do throughout the scenario is to explain what is going on from my perspective,” he said. “After I was done talking, I always asked if they had any questions, especially the public information officer. I wanted to make sure that he knew what was going on and understood what he had to do before he had to talk to the media.”
Sean Capps from Lexington, Virginia, said that the experience was a great way to wrap up his college career.
“Every criminal justice student should have to take a class such as this,” he said. “It’s real-world concepts and ideas and you have to implement different things you’ve learned throughout your college career. Coming out of college and coming into a career that some of the professionals here have, it really puts into perspective what we’ll be doing and what can potentially happen.”
Capps played the role of the safety officer, a role in which he was in charge of the safety of the responding personnel to the scene.
One of the tense situations was when hostages were taken during the emergency response simulation. Students – and the professional advisors who were present at the exercise – debated about how to best respond to the situation.
“There are a lot of considerations that come into play, but life safety always has to be the first consideration,” Owen said. “It was about the life safety principle that they were having vigorous conversation, but it is a conversation that needs to be had – and is safe to have – in a simulated setting. They need to think through their various options, the consequences and the best way to handle the scenario.”