The University conducted a disaster drill on April 6 at Stephens residence hall. This year’s exercise included a residence hall fire scenario.
Since 2002, the University has coordinated a disaster drill every spring to facilitate a test of its emergency notification system as well as 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 disasters include earthquake, fire, hazardous waste, explosion and an active shooter.
The drill presents a real-life disaster scenario to be used as a teaching tool so that the campus community will be prepared in the event of an actual emergency. The drill is organized and executed by Harding’s Department of public safety and the emergency management team made up of administrators, faculty and staff across campus.
Several academic programs within the University such as nursing, physician’s assistant, pharmacy, athletic training and counseling all coordinated student participation in the event. Health sciences students acted as medical staff on the scene to triage theatre students posing as victims.
“We are not the only school that involves community first responders or student volunteers, but we do it well enough that other schools, including larger state universities have come to observe our drills in the past for ideas in how they can improve their own processes,” Director of Public Safety Craig Russell said. “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.”