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AU News

Functional Exercise Gives Students Hands-on Experience Managing Crisis

May 26, 2021
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Engaging in functional exercises is critical to Public Service and Administration student learning, Dr. Howard Murphy says.

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Students in the Incident Management and Planning (CRJ 325) class at the Anderson University School of Public Service and Administration learned how to effectively manage a disaster response during a functional exercise this spring. 

Using a scale model representing a tornado-ravaged disaster scene, students performed the various incident command system and emergency management roles involved in a response, including effectively managing available resources, securing affected areas, how to safely respond, rescue and recovery, triage and patient tracking and clearing roads. They also were learning about the crucial role communication plays in an effective emergency response. 

Following the exercise, Dr. Howard Murphy, associate professor and coordinator of Homeland Security and Emergency Services degree programs, along with representatives from Anderson University Campus Safety, the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Management Division and various emergency response officials, recapped the exercise and discussed overall responsiveness to the staged disaster.

Discussion points included who is responsible for properly assessing an emergency and determining how to respond, establishing an incident command post and the incident command system structure, setting up an Emergency Operations Center (EOC), discussing the proper response to various challenges, including interaction with news media and long-term recovery efforts following the disaster. 

“The best thing about a functional exercise is you get to see what everybody else is doing,” Murphy said. “It’s not like a full-scale exercise where when you’re a paramedic, your focus is on triaging patients; or if you’re a law enforcement officer, your focus is on traffic control or scene management.”

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