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Representatives from nearby colleges and universities simulated
an emergency to practice skills learned during the course.

PC hosts FEMA course for regional colleges

Staff from eight regional colleges and universities, as well as representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), recently convened at Providence College to participate in a higher-education emergency management course.

For the first time, PC hosted the FEMA Multi-Hazard Emergency Planning for Higher Education course, a three-day conference that helps train schools in preparation for emergency situations. The course is held annually in 24 different locations around the United States.

A total of 30 people participated in the course, including staff from Brown University, Rhode Island School of Design, Johnson and Wales University, Bryant University, Babson University, Community College of Rhode Island, Tufts University, and Western Connecticut State University.

One FEMA representative facilitated, while two others taught the class that was hosted on campus by Koren V. Kanadanian, PC’s director of emergency management.

“Schools sent groups with their own pieces of emergency planning like emergency managers, residence life directors, deans, and provosts, so that they can learn what they might do in their departments in time of crisis,” Kanadanian said.

The course simulated an emergency — a hypothetical dormitory fire on campus. Participants divided into groups and set emergency management plans in action. They dealt with constant changes that were presented to alter the scenario and force everyone to perform under pressure.

The course included a mock press conference after the emergency scenario to teach how to relay information to the public. The conference was videotaped so that it could be reviewed and anaylzed by the FEMA representatives.

“The course put me in the hot seat and helped me see how my managing skills were, Kanadanian said. “It also helps me to design our exercises and training for the PC community. It gave me some more experience for this situation and shows me what we need and how it could be updated.

In addition to helping schools strengthen their emergency management plans, the course encouraged colleges to continue networking and communicating practices in case of emergency events, said Kanadanian.

“We talked to other colleges about understanding each other’s plans so we are not pulling from the same pool of resources, and we started thinking about how we can help each other,” Kanadanian said.

In addition to aid from neighboring schools, “we have to be self-sufficient, we’re our own community, we’re like our own little city,” he added.

— Nick Tavares ’16

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