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April 3, 2012
For more information about Atlantic Hope 2012 or about Northwest’s bachelor of science degree in comprehensive crisis response at Northwest, contact one of the following faculty members:
Eighteen Northwest Missouri State University students and five faculty members spent March 8-11 in Fort Pierce, Fla., participating in Atlantic Hope 2012, a full-scale disaster exercise designed to train participants in humanitarian aid, safety and leadership.
Atlantic Hope 2012 took place at the Treasure Coast Public Safety Training Complex at Indian River State College (IRSC) with more than 50 participants from a variety of colleges and universities. The exercise occurs within the fictional country of Atlantica, which has been devastated by a severe earthquake.
Within the scenario, Atlantica is divided by its politics and government officials requested aid from a humanitarian organization, International Humanitarian Action (IHA). Tensions between North and South Atlantica had the country on the brink of civil war and student participants were delegated as humanitarian aid workers from IHA.
“Atlantic Hope 2012 is an intense, realistic simulation of the work that is required of humanitarian aid workers after a disaster occurs,” said Abbey Lawrence, a Northwest junior who is majoring in English with minors in psychology and comprehensive crisis response. “Participants were constantly reminded of the importance of safety and the humanitarian imperative. Students also had to learn about the core values of humanitarians, which are neutrality, impartiality and independence. The exercise was physically and mentally strenuous, but an extremely rewarding and fulfilling experience.”
The exercise commenced immediately upon the students’ arrival at IRSC. Participants were put through Atlantican Immigration and Customs before a briefing about the situation in Atlantica. Participants worked to gain humanitarian space and then establish an internally displaced person’s camp. Additional students and faculty served as role players or controller evaluators during the exercise, providing insight and instruction to the participants when necessary.
Day two of the exercise included seminars at which the students learned about the skills humanitarian workers should possess, such as negotiating tactics, basic first aid, foundations of leadership and International Humanitarian Law (IHL). Participants then put the information they learned to use during the remainder of the scenario.
During the third day of the exercise, participants navigated a series of stations that tested their resilience and dedication to the humanitarian imperative of preventing and alleviating human suffering. The stations focused on situations dealing with mass casualties, earthquake evacuation, the incident command system, and logistics and planning.
On the final day, the students participated in an after action review to discuss the outcomes of the exercise and consider areas of improvement.
“Atlantic Hope 2012 was an enriching exercise that tested the resilience, compassion and versatility of all participants,” Lawrence said. “Initially, the intensity of the exercise was overwhelming. However, as the exercise progressed, I learned to channel the intensity into focus and performance enhancement. If anyone is interested in humanitarian aid work or the comprehensive crisis response major or minor, Atlantic Hope is a beneficial and fulfilling experience.”
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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