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Students Gain Hands-On Experience at Emergency Operations Center

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

EM Mock Exercise

Harris with students during the exercise
View more photos by Abi Bell

UCF students recently gained hands-on experience in emergency management by participating in a mock exercise at the Seminole County Emergency Operations Center in Sanford, Fla.

The exercise was part of the course PAD 4395 - Disaster Response and Recovery taught by Assistant Professor Claire Connolly Knox, who coordinates the school's emergency management programs. Students learn about disaster response and recovery processes, programs and problems through lectures, guest speakers, videos, case studies and field study.

The Emergency Operations Center's staff ran a mock exercise for PAD 4395 students on Nov. 24. The exercise focused on managing the impact of high winds and flooding associated with a hurricane rolling through Sanford.

Each student sat at a well-defined station or "emergency support function," such as Animal Care or Public Works, in the center's large operations room. There the student learned how to respond to calls for information and assistance posed by volunteers in a nearby room. In the process the students helped the center by testing some new systems.

"It's a great learning experience," said Alan Harris, director of emergency management for Seminole County and a member of the UCF programs' Advisory Board.

Harris also runs the most rigorous emergency management internship in Florida, Knox said. The majority of students who go through the unpaid internship are from UCF's emergency management programs.

Students who have completed the internship have landed emergency management positions at organizations such as FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), the University of South Florida, Georgetown University and the University of North Texas, she added.


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