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Northwest faculty and staff pose for a photo on a beach while attending the Florida Hope domestic disaster response training. (Submitted photos)

Northwest faculty and staff pose for a photo on a beach while attending the Florida Hope domestic disaster response training. (Submitted photos)

April 5, 2019

Students participate in first Florida Hope emergency response training

By Kelsey Johnson, communication assistant


Northwest students participated March 7-10 in Florida Hope, a four-day disaster response training focused on epidemiological investigation and incident response, psychological first aid, a mass casualty incident, evidence collection investigation, and victim information and victim assistance centers.

Northwest students participated March 7-10 in Florida Hope, a four-day disaster response training focused on epidemiological investigation and incident response, psychological first aid, a mass casualty incident, evidence collection investigation, and victim information and victim assistance centers.

Florida Hope provided Northwest students with opportunities to work with peers from throughout the country.

Florida Hope provided Northwest students with opportunities to work with peers from throughout the country.

As part of Florida Hope, students were challenged on their ability to respond to a plane crash as a mass casualty simulation.

As part of Florida Hope, students were challenged on their ability to respond to a plane crash as a mass casualty simulation.

Fourteen Northwest Missouri State University students and faculty traveled to Indian River State College in Fort Pierce, Florida, last month to participate in the first iteration of Florida Hope, a domestic disaster response training that challenged participants to overcome their fears and sharpen their emergency response skills.

The four-day disaster response training focused on epidemiological investigation and incident response, psychological first aid, a mass casualty incident, evidence collection investigation, and victim information and victim assistance centers.

“I went into Florida Hope with no type of training at all,” Kyla Streeter, a freshman emergency disaster management major from Papillion, Nebraska, said. “I learned to find my strengths and use them to help my entire team, even if I was unsure of my abilities. My biggest learning experience was overcoming what I thought I couldn’t do.”

Florida Hope is the first of the “Hope” programs sponsored by the Consortium for Humanitarian Service and Education (CHSE) to offer a public health and epidemiological exercise. During the scenario, students responded to simulation of an outbreak on a college campus. Volunteer role players simulated germs by applying invisible dye on their hands that was only visible black light.

The CHSE, a 501(c)3 non-profit that coordinates full immersion experiences for individuals in the fields of disaster response and humanitarian relief, also sponsors Missouri Hope each the fall at Northwest and New York Hope in Painted Post, New York, in the spring.

“During the epidemiological exercise, we learned how to properly put on and take off personal protective equipment and conduct interviews with people who may have a contagious disease,” Streeter said.

After students completed interviews and removed their protective equipment, a black light was used to scan students to see how well they did in the exercise.

Students also responded to a plane crash as a mass casualty simulation. In addition to collecting evidence from the plane, they organized a victim information center that matched bodies and body parts to descriptions of missing people and a victim assistance center where students interviewed volunteers who played the roles of family members of missing people.

“My favorite part was the mass casualty exercise and the victim identification center,” Emily Madden, a junior emergency disaster management and psychology major from St. Joseph, Missouri, said. “I got to be out in the field and help people in need while I was put in very high-stress situations, so I got to see how I would react in those hard situations.”

Streeter and Madden agreed the skills they learned and connections they made at Florida Hope benefited them in a variety of ways.

“I made so many new friends and connections, not only with people from Missouri, but from Florida and New York,” Madden said. “I enjoyed every minute of it and can’t wait until my next one.”

Streeter said, “During an exercise I was given a role where I had to speak publicly and, at first, I didn’t think I could do it. I went through with my assigned role and gave the announcement in front of a large group of people. I realized that I could do it and that I shouldn’t doubt myself completely, as I was more capable than I thought.”

The students also agreed Northwest prepared them well for Florida Hope through Missouri Hope and coursework in crisis communication. Students also added to their appreciation for each other and for student staff from Northwest at Florida Hope.

“Bearcats were incredibly helpful and important to the entire exercise, and they really helped improve my experience,” Streeter said.


For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468