Students training with local law enforcement for an emergency training exercise.

Emergency Management Students Participate in Emergency Exercise

ORIENT, Ohio — The Pickaway County Emergency Management Office in conjunction with The State Emergency Management Office conducted a functional hazardous materials exercise last Friday. The purpose of the exercise was to ensure that an adequate hazardous materials response plan exists on the county level. The functional exercise involved a simulated hazardous material release that occurred on state Route 762 in Scioto Township. 

Ohio Christian University Emergency Management has been involved since the planning stage of this emergency exercise event.  The initial impetus of the participation was as a real life component of The Exercise Design course that was offered at OCU last semester.  A part of the student requirement for the course was participation in at least one exercise meeting.  For a handful of students, this one meeting became several and these students began attending all the meetings and taking a more active role in the actual planning of the event. 

Amy Lawler filled the emergency safety officer role for the event.  The Safety Officer is responsible for monitoring and assessing hazardous and unsafe situations and developing measures to assure personnel safety. In addition, The Safety Officer corrects unsafe acts or conditions through the regular line of authority, although the Safety Officer may exercise emergency authority to prevent or stop unsafe acts when immediate action is required.

Other students filled the role of actors at the event.  EM Students, Eric Fortell and Jacci Wright acted as victims from the hazmat spill, and they were required to act injured.  This included screaming and being decontaminated by the fire department. 

OCU Emergency Management Graduate, and Pickaway County Emergency Planner, Dustin Hube acted as the emergency manager for the event.  The primary obligation of the emergency manager, regardless of authority, is to “protect and preserve the safety” of the jurisdiction’s citizenry. The emergency manager must develop relationships with emergency response agencies to facilitate inter-agency operations in emergencies. Inter-agency competition must dissolve into a seamless emergency response when needed, but the emergency manager must also be aware of the limits of each department. It’s frequently the duty of the emergency manager to create and use joint training exercises to highlight and correct weaknesses in emergency response.

OCU Emergency Management Director, Dr. Thad Hicks acted as an Emergency Exercise Controller for the event.  Controllers help plan and manage exercise play, set up and operate the exercise site, and act in the roles of organizations or individuals that are not playing in the exercise.  Controllers direct the pace of the exercise, provide key data to players, and may prompt or initiate certain player actions to ensure exercise continuity. 

OCU Criminal Justice Director, Sean Lovell served as an exercise evaluator at the event.  Evaluators evaluate and provide feedback on a designated functional area of the exercise.  Professor Lovell was assigned to the incident command component of the event.  Evaluators observe and document performance against established capability targets and critical tasks, in accordance with the objectives set up during the planning of the exercise. 

Written by: Dr. Thad Hicks, Director of Emergency and Disaster Management 

 

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