COVID-19 to shape disaster response training

Published: Mar. 24, 2020 at 3:18 PM EDT
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Students who train at the All Hazards Facility at the Universit of Findlay learn how to respond to all kinds of disasters, from industrial problems to global pandemics.

But experts said they've never seen a situation like this before and plan to use it as a teachable moment in the future.

First things first: staying healthy right now.

John Kayser, the Director of Operations at the All Hazards Training Center said it's simple.

"If you're sick, stay home," he said. "Just following the rules that the governor has put in place. Disinfectant wipes or materials to wipe themselves down with, wipe the counter off. Obviously toilet paper is a big issue with people worried about being trapped in their homes for a good amount of time."

But when it comes to stocking up and preparing, he said it's tough to know what we need right now.

"I'm not really sure how you plan for something like this," Kayser said. "This is unprecedented, something that hasn't happened before in my time on this earth. I think you just have to get what you need to stay in your house for 14 days."

At the training center, students have learned skills and information to help them get through this time. Kevin Smith, the Director of EHS Programs at the center, said "What we do is we train on hazards like biological hazards, chemical hazards. So when pandemics like this happen, that's already part of our training."

With the challenges of COVID-19, instructors have a lot more material to cover, when students come back. And Smith said knowledge to get through a pandemic like this will likely come in handy again.

"When you look at it with SARS and MERS and COVID-19, it's kind of a reoccurring thing," Smith said. "So it's important for universities and students to have that situational awareness."

Smith expects to take the situational awareness needed to keep ourselves healthy for COVID-19 and develop a seminar for students, in addition to the pandemic training they already receive.

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