NCSP and SPTC Bring Academia and Homeland Security Professionals Together in New Workshop

14 November, 2012

On October 27, 2012, the National Center for Security & Preparedness (NCSP), in conjunction with the State Preparedness Training Center (SPTC), delivered the first Homeland Security: Academia Meets Practice workshop. The goal of the workshop was to familiarize the students, who were primarily from the academic community, with the practical application of various homeland security missions and challenges. Students were introduced to topics in intelligence, counter terrorism and terrorist interdiction, chemical and biological weapons, homemade explosives (HMEs), and multiple casualty incident (MCI) management. The workshop was taught by subject matter expert instructors from the NCSP, SPTC staff, and representatives from the NYS DHSES Office of Counter Terrorism and State Office of Emergency Management.

Homeland Security: Academia Meets Practice drew undergraduate and graduate students, professors, and administrators from over a dozen colleges and universities. The workshop was designed to introduce key concepts from the perspective of homeland security practitioners through facilitated discussion and hands-on learning. Activities and discussions included:

  • A current threat briefing from New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, Office of Counter Terrorism (NYS DHESES, OCT)
  • A discussion on the threat posed by attacks with multiple, synchronized active shooters, with lessons drawn from the 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai, India
  • An interactive demonstration on active shooter training using Simunition® non-lethal training weapons
  • Familiarization with biological agents and terrorism using simulated dissemination devices and substances
  • An up close and personal view of a simulated homemade explosives lab, including a discussion of the challenges responders face when entering an HME environment
  • A discussion and demonstration on improvised explosive devices(IEDs) using simulated devices
  • Student response to a multiple casualty incident scenario using START triage’ techniques to sort patients (played by NCSP role players).
  • A discussion of incident assessment and scene management using the Rosterfield Simulation Board

Homeland Security: Academia Meets Practice is a key aspect of the NCSP’s efforts to serve as a conduit between these two perspectives on homeland security. The link between the insights derived from academic research and theory and practical application is important in strengthening the nation’s ability to prevent, prepare for, mitigate, respond to, and recover from disasters and acts of terrorism. In the future, the NCSP and SPTC plan to develop more workshops with similar goals. For example, the center is currently in the conceptual development phase of a three-day course where higher education students and faculty will be fully immersed in the training opportunities available at the SPTC through discussion and scenario-based training.

Homeland Security: Academia Meets Practice was well received by those who attended:

“The program provided a glimpse into the real world of first responders and the challenges they face each day. It was invaluable to merge the academic side of homeland security with real world experts and experience. The instructors were top-notch; their expertise is derived from years of experience in the field.” – Joan Fahey, University at Albany graduate student

“I thought the Academia Meets Practice workshop was a great opportunity for students to experience some of the skills necessary to be successfully involved in emergency response. While classroom work is great at communicating information, this workshop opened the door to give students the opportunity to use that information. I sincerely hope that there are further collaborations between the academic world and the practical world at the State Preparedness Training Center.” – Michael Mazurowski, Erie Community College, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medical Technology,

Academia Meets Practice was an eye-opening experience. For me, playing an EMS responder had the greatest impression. I was also a fan of the explosives portion. It was very interesting and something I don't think I would see anywhere else.” – Kate Hanecak, University at Albany graduate student

Homeland Security: Academia Meets Practice was an excellent overview of the many components of what the New York State Preparedness Center has to offer, as well as identifying just what the current threat trends are perceived to be. The class highlighted a number of the various training evolutions designed to prepare this State for what could be coming next, including the use of improvised explosive materials and mass casualty response. Our State and our First Responders are well served by the facility and we want thank the staff for bringing this insight to the public.” – Gregg Blosat Captain, D District Buffalo Police Department

"The Homeland Security: Academia Meets Practice workshop was an excellent opportunity for various individuals ranging from law enforcement, EMTs and paramedics, government contractors, academics, and students like myself to come together and learn about the importance of bridging the gap." – Jeffrey Vargas, University at Albany undergraduate student

“The Academia Meets Practice day was very useful for me as an educator, giving me a better appreciation of the practitioner perspective and giving me insight into the current best practices of first responders. Having talked to my students I believe it was also extremely beneficial for them. They came away with a much clearer understanding of what is entailed in working in the area of homeland security and emergency management – plus they had a lot of fun.” – Victor Asal, University at Albany Associate Professor of Political Science