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Multi-agency emergency exercise at Seminole State tests preparedness, collaboration

Seminole State’s Executive Vice President Dr. Joseph Sarnovsky checks with other Emergency Response Team members during the emergency exercise Nov.1 at the Oviedo Campus. Seminole State, Seminole County emergency response agencies, Oviedo Police and Fire departments, UCF and SCPS were part of the exercise.
Seminole State Safety and Security collaborates with deputies from the Seminole County Sheriff's Office during an emergency exercise at the Oviedo Campus on Nov. 1. 

An emergency exercise Friday morning at Seminole State College of Florida’s Oviedo Campus tested preparedness and collaboration. In addition to a fire drill, the exercise included an active shooter scenario, making it the first of its kind for Seminole State and the Seminole County Office of Emergency Management.

“We do these exercises to make sure we are prepared. The safety of our students, faculty and staff is our top priority,” says Dick Hamann, Seminole State’s vice president of information technology and institutional resources and chairman of the College’s Emergency Response Team. “These exercises ensure that our partners and local agencies know our facilities, what to do and who to contact at the College in an emergency situation.”

About 40 representatives from Seminole State, Seminole County emergency response agencies, Oviedo Police and Fire departments, the University of Central Florida (UCF) and Seminole County Public Schools (SCPS) participated. The exercise, which began at 9:45 a.m., tested how these agencies and organizations would respond and work together. It included notification of the necessary agencies and personnel, the establishment of a unified command, building evacuations and a recovery discussion phase. About 20 classes were in session when the exercise began.

Communication and response between Seminole State and its partner schools also was tested during the exercise, since some SCPS and UCF students take classes at the campus. The campus is also adjacent to Haggerty High School and only about a mile from UCF.

“There’s a lot of dimension in this exercise, because of the Oviedo Campus’s proximity to so many other agencies and because of the diverse makeup of the campus, with students from Seminole State, UCF and the high schools,” says Alan Harris emergency manager at the Seminole County Office of Emergency Management. “The exercise crosses jurisdictions, but we all speak the same language when it comes to first response. We want to more effectively respond to these kinds of situations, which we’ve seen in the news across the nation. We pray it never happens locally, but through training, we’re better able to respond to all hazards.”

The exercise helped Seminole State:

  • Learn how staff react during an emergency situation
  • Test how staff follow Incident Command System (ICS) and National Incident Management System (NIMS) structure
  • Determine the College’s readiness in the event of an emergency

Following the exercise, representatives from Seminole State and other participating agencies met to review strengths in the emergency procedures and to suggest improvements.

This is the second live exercise at Seminole State. The first took place in October 2012 at the College’s Heathrow Campus in collaboration with Seminole County agencies. Another exercise is planned for 2014 at either the Altamonte Springs Campus or the Sanford/Lake Mary Campus.

In addition to planned emergency exercises, Seminole State has conducted active shooter training for employees since 2011.

“We’ll continue to do more training so that we can improve our response and implement new measures if necessary,” Hamann says.

Seminole State College’s Emergency Response Team (ERT), organized in line with the Incident Command System, is comprised of a cross section of representatives from Seminole State College. The ERT oversees emergency planning and response at Seminole State.  For more information, please visit the Seminole State Alert website. 

To view more photos of the exercise, visit Seminole State on Flickr.

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