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The College of Emergency Preparedness gives students the chance to work in “real” emergencies

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By Kevin Mercado

4/5/16


 

new four-week “simulation” course was introduced for University at Albany students, taking the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity to the next level.

The college’s online homepage explains that a “simulation is a widely used teaching technique in which students play specified roles in simulated real world situations. For example, in a simulation of a hurricane event, students could play the role of emergency managers and policy makers during the preparation, response, and recovery phases of the storm.”

In just about a year since its introduction to the campus, the college has been taking firm actions to teach students how to act in cases like Hurricane Sandy’s vicious attack on New Jersey. I suppose with super storms like that now making their way to the Upper East Coast, it would be in students’ best interests to be prepared for a natural disaster of any kind.

This course is designed to, at first, teach students about how to react in natural disaster situations and then give them hands-on training at a separate location.

According to the SUNY blog, “[Gov. Andrew Cuomo] has committed $15 million to establish this first-in-the-nation security college.”

The money is now being used to allow students to indulge in first-hand knowledge and actual experiences with natural disasters as well as cybersecurity threats that they would not have ordinarily had. It is fairly interesting to know that this school is fostering such a program.

The only concern that I have is how much money the university is investing in this program. It teaches students how to act in the case of a natural disaster, yet in this region we don’t have to deal with many hurricanes, or disasters like tornadoes or earthquakes.

I realize that it shouldn’t be the case that someone would have to experience a tragedy of that caliber in order to learn how to respond in these cases. But, it seems a bit much to choose UAlbany as the “guinea pig” for this kind of program.

“I’m no expert, but it sounds like it would be a good idea because if we have programs built to teach students about emergency preparedness, it only makes sense to have a course that simulates emergency situations where they can make practical use of their knowledge,” said UAlbany student Michaela Czerkies, 22.

Aside from my general concerns about where finances are going, the program does seem to be essential to the younger generation. Especially in cases like Hurricane Sandy, a storm that became more daunting than anyone would have assumed, through this program people would know how to handle themselves.

The SUNY blog also wrote, “This is the first step in creating a more knowledgeable society that is capable of combating the growing threats that our country faces.”

I question if $15 million is sufficient for this program and how effective it actually will be. I am not certain that a simulation of natural disasters will accurately portray what a student will experience during a tornado situation.

I question whether these students are actually learning quality information from this program, especially information that will teach them what they need to know, and to be ready, when the time calls for it.

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