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Disaster Response

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 21, 2017) – Eight UAlbany students recently put their emergency response skills to the test through a crisis simulation in Florida.

The simulation, called the “Atlantic Hope” exercise, immerses students from around the United States in a humanitarian disaster for four days. It takes place in the fictional country of “Atlantica.” Students serve as emergency personnel, providing aid to victims and working with the country’s military force.

Students in UAlbany’s College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity (CEHC) program were invited to participate in the exercise from March 2-5 at the Indian River State College’s Treasure Coast Public Safety Training Complex.

“We model the exercise after the Haiti earthquake,” said Alex Rohlwing,” Atlantic Hope exercise director and Georgetown University graduate student. “It introduces students to the challenges of responding to real-life humanitarian disasters.”

Students prepare to serve as emergency personnel for a week prior to the exercise. Once arriving, they must pass through Atlantica’s customs office, then get to work. The simulation allows participants to test their skills in conflict resolution, disaster triage, humanitarian aid coordination, self-management and adaptation under pressure.

“We bring in local volunteers who serve as victims, members of the local government, national government, and so on. This exercise is the real deal,” Rohlwing said.

Including UAlbany, students from nine different universities and colleges worked together to complete the simulation. CEHC also sent several faculty and staff members to volunteer. Students received a certificate of competition once the simulation was over.

Lizzie Buchanan, a sophomore at UAlbany, was one of the students involved in Atlantic Hope. She said it offered her a valuable training opportunity that went beyond the classroom.

“This exercise pushed me above and beyond what I thought I could accomplish. It brought me as close to a real disaster situation as possible,” Buchanan said. “I’ve come back to campus with a better understanding of emergency response and look forward to more training opportunities in the near future.”

UAlbany sophomore Nancy Kreis agreed with Buchanan.

“The Atlantic Hope Exercise was an amazing opportunity,” Kreis said. “To experience hands-on disaster training as a sophomore, helped my personal and professional growth immensely.”

Under the direction of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, UAlbany launched the nation’s first College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, and Cybersecurity in January 2015. More than 275 students enrolled into the college’s undergraduate minor program within the first year.

CEHC’s bachelor’s degree program was approved for the 2016-17 fall semester. 100 hours of training are required for completion of the major.

Learn more about CEHC’s mission and academic programs here

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