Harding University partners with first responders during annual disaster drill

Harding University conducted its annual community-wide disaster drill Wednesday, March 29, at the University’s South Center for Health Sciences located at 1300 South Main Street. This year’s exercise simulated a bomb threat and explosion.

“I am proud of Harding's 20-plus year history of bringing students, University faculty and staff, and local emergency service providers together for an annual drill that involves more than 100 people,” said Craig Russell, director of public safety. “This drill has made our campus and our community safer through improved communications, improved and tested procedures, and much closer collaboration.  We are thankful for the cooperation we enjoy here at Harding with our Searcy community.”

Since 2002, the University has coordinated disaster drills to facilitate a test of its emergency notification system and processes, allow practice for 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 EMS ambulance service, Searcy Police Department, Unity Health and White County Office of Emergency management. Previously staged events include simulations of an earthquake, hazardous waste, explosion, fire and active shooter.

Faculty from Carr College of Nursing and College of Pharmacy, as well as the physician assistant and counseling programs, coordinated student participation in the event. Health sciences students acted as medical staff on the scene to triage students acting as victims and utilized specific injury scenarios.

“The disaster drill is an important academic experience for nursing, PA, pharmacy and professional counseling students,” said Karen Kelley, assistant professor of nursing. “This simulated experience allows the student to experience the uncertainty of a disaster scene, making decisions with limited resources and the emotions of responding to a disaster while practicing skills such as triage, first aid and more advanced care.”

The University had more than 100 participants involved in the drill.

Harding University is a private Christian, liberal arts university located in Searcy, Arkansas. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, it is the largest private university in the state. Harding’s student body represents students from across the U.S. and more than 50 nations and territories. The University offers more than 110 undergraduate majors; 14 preprofessional programs; more than 40 graduate and professional programs; as well as numerous study abroad opportunities including locations in Australasia, Peru, England, Greece, Italy and Zambia. For more information, visit harding.edu .

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