Future crisis managers, military officers, negotiators, diplomats and relief agency professionals will participate today, Saturday and Sunday in Northwest Missouri State University's first-ever disaster response field training exercise at Mozingo Lake.
Open to all Northwest students, participation in "Missouri Hope" is required for those enrolled as majors or minors in the university's comprehensive crisis response program.
The training will take place at the university-operated Mozingo Outdoor Education Recreation Area and at a nearby youth camp, which is part of city-owned Mozingo Lake Recreation Park.
"This is an amazing applied leadership experience," said Mark Corson, a professor of geoscience and U.S. Army Reserve brigadier general who has led Northwest students through similar exercises in both Florida and the Republic of Macedonia in southeastern Europe.
"Many people find these experiential opportunities life-changing because they are challenged in ways in which they’ve never been challenged," Corson said. "People learn much about themselves as leaders and followers."
The exercise has been organized into three "training lanes" that will take place today and Saturday consisting of rescue and evacuation exercises, a disaster simulation and operations training at an "incident command post."
Personnel from the American Red Cross will conduct an introductory disaster services course this evening in addition to training in "shelter fundamentals" on Saturday. A mock news conference will take place Sunday morning along with a review of the exercise.
Over the course of "Missouri Hope," participating students will be assigned to disaster response teams and take turns filling both leadership and subordinate roles. Though geared toward management, the exercise will also include basic first-responder training.
"Our catchphrase is ‘Be a responder and not a victim,'" Corson said. "Crises happen all the time. You can never tell when and where they will happen. People who are trained and ready will be able to take care of their families and neighbors, and they will be a responder and not a victim."
Northwest launched its crisis response program back in 2009 in answer to a growing demand for professionals trained in all aspects of disaster and crisis management. The multi-disciplinary program was given academic major status in 2012 and now has an enrollment of 60 students.