UNH Students Pull Together for Emergency Drill
UNH Students Pull Together for Emergency Drill

by Brandon T. Bisceglia '14
UNH Today Contributing Writer

When Logan Hill '17 got to the scene of the explosion, he didn't know what to expect. The paramedicine major from Lumberton, N.J., was with the first ambulance crew to arrive.

He found eight dead bodies. A woman with burns over 40 percent of her body lay on the ground crying for help.

Fortunately, the woman was a volunteer actress, and the dead were dummies.

The emergency was an elaborate drill, the product of more than seven months of work by members of the Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences that culminated in a two-day event late last month that included 200 students.

Students simulate the emergency response to a bomb explosion.

“We spent ten minutes triaging everyone and getting them over to the triage station, which is a really quick time,” said Hill, who has been in real emergency situations as part of his major.

Dani Orlando '18 was also impressed by the response. The criminal justice and psychology double major from Naugatuck, Conn., played the part of the burn victim.

“It was so much fun,” she said, showing off the red paint on her arms and face. “In real life, people might scream, cry or even throw things.”

The staging area was a parking lot across the street from the main campus. The organizers built a clapboard shack and placed a smoke machine and “evidence” inside.

After the emergency teams came, the police and a hazmat team secured the site and discovered a laptop with schematics for a bomb. National security students were called in to investigate. By the second day, they developed leads and gathered intelligence. Finally, they brought their case to legal studies students, who decided whether to issue a warrant.

The students were led to Vesna Markovic, assistant dean of the Lee College, as the main suspect. The exercise concluded with her arrest.

There was no guarantee that the investigation would go as planned, Markovic said. “It’s one thing to do this in class,” she said. “It’s another to do it in the field, where things can get chaotic. This gives them an added bit of reality.”

High winds the first morning did introduce a little chaos as materials in the command center kept being blown over. But fire science major Shelby Sattizahn ’16 kept things together as the incident commander for the fire team.

Sattizahn said his previous experience fighting fires as a lieutenant in his hometown of Pine Grove, Pa., helped him tremendously.

“Having prior experience, I know what needs to be done and who to put in charge to get it done,” he said.

Fire science lecturer Robert Healey spearheaded the event’s organization and said the drill owed its realism in part to area organizations that had donated much of the equipment and materials.

Healey said the drill had grown substantially since the inaugural one the previous year. “My dream is to eventually encompass the whole University,” he said.

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