Harding University conducted its annual disaster drill April 19 from 3-5 p.m. at the campus intramural fields. This year’s exercise simulated a multi-vehicle accident.
“We always try to bring something new or test a specific capability in a new way with our annual drill,” Director of Public Safety Craig Russell said. “One goal this year includes getting campus groups that frequently travel to think about what they would do in the event of a serious accident that might happen while they are away from campus.”
Since 2002, the University has coordinated a disaster drill every spring to facilitate a test of its emergency notification system, allow practice of emergency communications protocol for administrators, and measure the timeliness of community first responders. The University cooperates with area emergency personnel including Searcy Fire Department, Northstar Ambulance Service, Searcy Police Department, Unity Health Hospital, and White County Office of Emergency Services. Previously staged events include earthquake, fire, hazardous waste, explosion and active shooter.
According to Russell, there are many pieces to staging a drill. This year, Searcy Fire Department used their extraction equipment on a vehicle donated by General Automotive. Additionally, Survival Flight brought a rescue helicopter to the drill site.
“Just like a real large-scale emergency would involve many people and moving parts, our annual disaster drills also involve many people and moving parts all working together to help make our community safer,” Russell said. “We have always seen this drill as a community drill, not just a Harding University drill, and we are blessed that more individuals and groups are willing to contribute to help make this drill beneficial for the entire community.”
Several academic programs within the University such as nursing, physician assistant, pharmacy, athletic training and counseling coordinated student participation in the event. Health sciences students acted as medical staff on the scene to triage nursing students posing as victims. All together the drill included 150-200 participants.