Simulation Proves to be Successful: Mixing Theory with Practice!

Simulation: Building Security and Preparedness - CEHC393


A hallmark of the newly established College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity (CEHC) is the marriage of theory with practice. One of the key tools available to the faculty of CEHC in accomplishing this goal is the course “Simulation: Building Security and Preparedness” (CEHC 393). Using high-end simulations and other blended learning activities, CEHC 393 provides the student with the opportunity to blend theory with practice in a relatively controlled environment.
The first iteration of the course was successfully delivered in the 2015-16 Winter Session with 19 students participating. This delivery focused on two distinct but related areas: emergency incident command and control, and emergency operations center activities in times of disaster or catastrophic event. Students began the course with a foundation of learning activities including primary source readings and discussion blended with a modified table-top exercise. The next phase of the class transitioned to the New York State Preparedness Training Center where the students engaged with and observed high-end scenario-based simulations involving the emergency response, command and control of law enforcement, EMS, and fire service agencies to several “incidents,” each focusing on different challenges.
Day two of this phase moved to county emergency operations center activities where the class engaged in a simulation involving a level 6.2 earthquake. The simulations were orchestrated by faculty and experienced subject matter experts. Phase 3 occurred at the New York State Emergency Operations Center where the class learned about state level EOC operations followed by a short simulation involving a state’s response to a 6.2 level earthquake. The course culminated with each student reflecting upon his/her experience and the drafting of a capstone essay summarizing the lessons learned from the simulation.

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Overarching Student Comments:

Taken from the various reflective essays, the following student comments summarized their experience: (emphasis added)

- “When you can understand the immense pressure to make a choice and ensure that it is the correct one you then can begin to grasp the reasons why we need more places like the NCSP. As described above it provides our first responders and all those tasked with ensuring our safety in the event of any major incident with the experience that you can only get from being directly in the line of duty, that being said it isn’t exactly like the real deal but it is the closest you can get without actually being there."

- “Through the past few weeks of taking this course, I learned more than I ever thought I would. I thought it would be a great experience to take this class, and it has truly motivated me to pursue more experience for careers in homeland security. With the knowledge gained from this class, I  plan on applying for manHomeland Security Internships for the upcoming summer. I am motivated to learn more about this enterprise and wish to pursue a career in it in the near future.”The simulations of the course were conducted by a blend of CEHC faculty, subject matter experts from the National Center for Security & Preparedness (NCSP) of the CEHC, NCSP professional Training Role Players, Oneida County Deputy County Emergency Manager Joseph Hernon, and New York State Office of Emergency Management staff Richard French (Chief of Training and Exercise) and Vincent Fargione (EMAC Coordinator).

- “Seeing both sides of emergency management really puts things into perspective. There are so many things we as civilians would never even think go into play; such as all of those request forms. I am grateful for the experience I was a part of because I feel it will translate very well into my career path. Speaking with the first responders was one of the most valuable experiences thus far in my college career.”

- “My future professional ability has been enhanced by this course and its subsequent simulation training greatly. First and foremost, the simulations and our trip to Oriskany has opened by eyes to new positions in Homeland Security I had never thought of existed; Emergency Managers in EOCs.”

- “In all, the experience I gained from participating in the Simulation for the Building of Security and Preparedness this past winter was unforgettable. I can’t ever imagine being able to take away the knowledge I gained from visiting the State Preparedness Training Center, from a conventional classroom setting. It was incredibly interesting to witness emergency situations and the setting for both Emergency Operation Centers and I believe this experience is going to play a vital role in any professions I pursue in the future.”

-“I am not a homeland security minor, but taking this course has left an imprint on considering homeland security as my minor. I am considering further my knowledge for this type of work. I believe I can make a big difference if I practice and continue my education in homeland security.” 

- “Before I begin my reflection, I just want to say that this was honestly the most interesting and engaging course I have ever taken. I feel that I learned much more in the past few weeks than I learned the last semester! Once I saw the course listed for the winter session, I thought to myself that I must enroll in this course because it is a course like no other and seemed like a great experience.”

- This experience opened my eyes to a lot of new potential careers that I am willing to look into. After my first class in the college of Emergency preparedness, Homeland Security & Cyber security I have had an interest in this filed. I find it amazing that after this winter course that all I can think of is pursuing a career along the lines of homelands security.”

- “I could honestly say that I feel that I learned more in the past few weeks taking this class than I did in my last semester, especially with the visual and hands on learning that we did in the simulations.”
-The amount of knowledge these professionals had was outstanding and just being able to pick their minds made the class much more than 3 credits. It was a phenomenal experience and something that I would not easily forget. At one point Pablo (an amazing guy with a vast array of knowledge) even taught us the difference between explosions and detonations including some person experiences of his. Overall my experience was nothing other than amazing. I hope Mr. Mathews and the University at Albany expand this department and the class.”

For complete list of quotes, click here!