Faculty Activities and Research
Article Title: We Need to Prepare our Schools, and Children, For the Unthinkable
Under state law, all of Pennsylvania's public schools are required to conduct regular fire drills, "not less than once a month."
Most schools must also hold two bus emergency-evacuation drills on school grounds every academic year.
Thankfully, no child has perished in a school or bus fire in a very, very long time. The drills have done their job.
But more than 80 students, teachers and administrators have died in school shootings in the last three years. They seem to be happening more and more often. And our schools - and our kids - are not ready. I'm sure your children can readily tell you what they're supposed to do when the fire alarm shrieks at school: Line up at the classroom door; wait for teachers to grab student lists; walk outside quietly, quickly and safely; check for classmates; and then wait for the official signal to return.
But have your children mentioned anything about another training exercise chillingly called "active shooter preparation?" Probably not.
Central Pennsylvania companies and businesses regularly conduct such drills to prepare their employees in case a gunman attacks and opens fire.
Our schools need to do the same. We can't just close our eyes and hope it doesn't happen here. Tragically, it can.
Duane Hagelgans is a professor at the Millersville University Center for Disaster Research and Education. He also serves as spokesman for the South Central Task Force, which handles disaster preparedness and training for eight counties.
Schools have conducted lockdown drills for several years, but "locking down a school and hiding the students" just doesn't work anymore, Hagelgans said.
"There's a big difference between what we're teaching schools and children to do and what probably should be done with an active shooter. We need to be a lot more prepared."
No matter how hard we try, we can't shield our children from the senseless violence that strikes every day. We might think they're too young to know about other children dying in schools, malls or movie theaters. But we'd be wrong. They know.
"Parents often get trapped into thinking that they don't want their children exposed to violence and disasters. But what we're training and preparing kids for in school will help them not only there, but wherever they go - the mall, a movie theater, at home. The actions and reactions are the same," Hagelgans said.
Hagelgans advocates teaching children from kindergarten through college to be "prepared globally" so they can handle any disaster anywhere. My kids know exactly what to do if there's a fire at school; they've had two drills since school started in late August. They've even trained for an earthquake. But the details about trying to escape a shooter aren't nearly as clear: Move away from doors and windows; crouch under desks or lab tables, or hide in a corner.
Each generation experiences different terrors. My mom describes closing the blinds in her Philadelphia home and turning off all the lights during WWII air-raid practices. In school, they would duck under their desks in case of a nuclear attack.
I remember standing in the freezing cold outside my high school as we waited for our fire drills to end. Bomb threats were another thing that forced school evacuations in those days.
Today, the so-called "active shooter" appears to be our children's boogeyman.
All those years of learning "stop, drop and roll," and other fire-preparedness techniques in school has helped save countless lives of children and adults alike. Now it's time to expand the training.
It might be impossible to fully prepare for the chaos created when a gunman rushes a classroom. But professionals such as Duane Hagelgans strongly believe we need to try.
The tools are there. Just last year, the South Central Task Force conducted a full-scale active shooter drill at Central York High School, where two armed "suspects" stormed the school, killing four and wounding 10 others.
Hagelgans said the exercise not only helped school officials, but provided valuable hands-on training for police and emergency personnel throughout the area.
During recent years, local school districts have worked with local law enforcement to make their buildings more secure. You can't just stroll in and walk into a school office anymore. Police have also increased their presence on campus.
But we need to do more. It's not good enough for students to kinda sorta know what to do if their school is attacked. Their responses should come as automatically as they do in those fire drills they've been practicing since kindergarten. It's time.
Dr Hagelgans was invited to the National Academy of Sciences in Washington D.C., for the kickoff of FEMA’s “America’s PrepArathon” on September 5th. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and numerous other major disasters, FEMA has partnered with various groups including the NAS and Higher Education to create task forces to help with the recovery aspect of disasters and more importantly to beginning working on building Disaster Resilient Communities. During the event, FEMA announced that its study: Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative was just published and copies of the report were distributed. The event also highlighted National Preparedness Month with a declaration by President Obama and keynote address by FEMA Director Craig Fulgate. As Fulgate and several other speakers noted, we cannot keep doing things the same way, rebuilding in the same places with the same techniques and expect better outcomes. In addition, the task force is looking at the impacts of global climate change and its effect on disasters.
Millersville University Police Chief Pete Anders, a member of the CDRE advisory board, and MSEM Graduate Student Ann Harach presented a seventy-five minute presentation to over two hundred Millersville student teachers on August 23rd in the SMC multi-purpose room. The presentation is part of the ALICE training program that teaches preparedness in an Active Shooter situation. The presentation was interactive with many of the undergraduate students joining the presenters for various demonstrations on what to do when facing an intruder. Chief Anders and Harach are both qualified ALICE instructors and plan to offer the training on campus during the upcoming school year.
On August 20th as most students were preparing to return for the Fall semester, Dr Hagelgans was being interviewed at WGAL Channel 8. Dr. Hagelgans was interviewed by Anne Shannon on what you need to do to properly prepare your sons and daughters before sending them away to college. Utilizing the CDRE’s college Disaster Preparedness kit, he demonstrated what a kit should have for college students living away from home. He talked about the hazards a student may face both at college in the United States and when studying abroad. Dr. Hagelgans conveyed the story of a coed who died in a fire in Paris while in a Study Abroad program. Many foreign countries do not have codes that require smoke detectors, which would have prevented this terrible tragedy. WGAL aired the interview multiple times in the weeks leading up to the semester and placed a link on their website to the CDRE website, so that their viewers can access more information from the CDRE.
In September 2012, Dr. Bookmiller presented a paper "The International Law of 96 Hours: Urban Search and Rescue Teams and the Current State of International Disaster Response Law (IDRL)" at the Four Societies Seminar at University of California-Berkeley School of Law. The Four Societies include the American, Japanese, Canadian and Australian-New Zealand Societies of International Law and the conference theme was the "International Law of Disasters". Each Society only selected four papers each. The papers will now be published as an edited volume to be published by Cambridge University Press.
In October 2012, Dr. Bookmiller delivered three seminars on International Disaster Response Law to the University of Fortaleza, Brazil Law School as well as met with Ceara state emergency management officials to discuss the MSEM program and cooperation with CDRE.
In January 2013, Dr. Yalda and Dr. Bookmiller met with officials at the World Meteorological Organization, the United Nations' Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in Geneva, Switzerland to promote the MSEM and cooperation with CDRE in the areas of training and workshops and research/consulting projects. Two initiatives, regarding Human Rights and Disasters and organizing EM-related modules for the IFRC will be launched in 2013-2014.
In March 2013, Dr. Yalda and Dr. Bookmiller visited MU partner Catholic University of Valparaiso (PUCV) in Chile for meetings related to promoting the MSEM and inter-university cooperation with the CDRE. In addition to university administration and faculty meetings, meetings were held with both local officials responsible for disaster management as well as a federal minister responsible for mental health/trauma issues following disasters. An EM consortium involving MU, Fortaleza in Brazil, PUCV and MU partner U of Puerto Rico will be launched in 2012-2013.
Dr. Yalda invited to a “State All-Hazard Mitigation Plan Update” for the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency
On April 24, 2013, Dr. Yalda was invited to attend a “State All-Hazard Mitigation Plan Update” for the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. She attended a series of meetings and is currently working on updates with the committee. Some of the new hazard mitigation topics include Climate Change, Internet Interruption, Lock Failure, Mass Food and Animal Feed Contamination, and Invasive Species. These updates will be finalized and submitted with the State Plan Approval, which will occur in September 2013.
On Monday, March 18, 2013, Dr. Yalda and Dr. Bookmiller began a tour of PUCV in Chile to meet and collaborate with PUCV faculty and staff. Throughout the tour, they promoted the work of the Center for Disaster Research and Education (CDRE) as well as the graduate program for the Masters of Science in Emergency Management at Millersville University. One of the many goals of their visit to PUCV was to maintain the 13-year collaboration the University has already established with PUCV as well as seek to create new bonds and connections. To view the full article as well as pictures from the PUCV Visit, please click here.
Dr. Hagelgans has been selected to serve on a Public Safety and Security committee for the PASSHE Task force. For more information, visit the PASSHE website at http://www.passhe.edu.
Dr. Duane Hagelgans, along with MSEM Students Kasey Voges, Kristina Laboy, Dave Boucher and Scott Shenk participated in a table top exercise at the Lancaster County Emergency Management Agency’s Emergency Operation Center on Tuesday, March 5th. The exercise was part of Lancaster County EMA’s annual preparedness program. MSEM student Dave Boucher, a LEMA employee and exercise coordinator, was the lead planner for the annual exercise. The exercise brought together emergency management personnel, government officials and non-government organizations together to practice for a flooding scenario that was developed by Boucher.
Voges, Laboy and Shenk were able to get real world emergency management experience while “working” in the EOC for this functional exercise. Over a three hour period, volunteers called and relayed information to the EOC staff about the fictional flash flooding event. “Flooding is one of our County’s biggest issues, since it happens so frequently,” stated Dr. Hagelgans. “The exercise we experienced today is very realistic as to how we operate in the EOC during a real disaster event,” he stated. The role players called information in to the EOC, similar to what would happen in a real disaster. The EOC staff, led by Lancaster County Emergency Management Coordinator Randy Gockley, had to react to the information based upon county plans and their training and experience.
Lancaster County’s EMA staff activated their EOC, which is staffed for emergency events by both paid county personnel and volunteers from the community. Dr. Hagelgans is the County EMA’s volunteer Public Information Officer and has responded to numerous disasters with the County Staff, including last year’s tornado that traveled across twenty miles of Southern and Eastern Lancaster County.
Voges and Laboy were placed in the roles of Assistant Public Information Officers. They had to answer phone calls from fictional reporters and the public. As part of the duties of their positions, they had to answer calls from the public and dispel any rumors which surfaced. They also wrote and distributed fictional news released to the media. Shenk was assigned to the “simulation cell,” in which he and other role players provided those working in the EOC with information to analyze and make decisions on what actions to take to solve problems.
The exercise concluded with all of the EOC volunteers and all of the volunteers who played roles feeding information to the EOC participants discussing all the positives and areas for improvement. The working partnership between LEMA and the MSEM program continues to give MSEM students operational experience, while assisting LEMA with fulfilling their mission in public preparedness and response to disasters.
Dr. Duane Hagelgans has been hired as the first full time faculty member for the CDRE’s Masters of Science in Emergency Management program and Environmental Hazards and Emergency Management minor. “It is a great honor to be selected to be the first full time faculty member in such a great program. As an adjunct for these past four years, I have had the first hand experience to work with world class faculty and students that are second to none. I look forward to being able to work every day to assist with the advancement of the program and the students that come through our programs.”
Dr. Hagelgans began teaching at Millersville in 2007 as an adjunct faculty member in the Occupational Safety and Environmental Health program. In 2008, he, along with Dr Paul Specht, developed and taught EMGT 601 together. Dr. Hagelgans teaches EMGT 601, 605, 616 and 693. He retired from the City of Lancaster Bureau of Fire in 2011 after more than 27 years. He was a Battalion Fire Chief and held various positions, including training officer, emergency management coordinator, special operations chief and administrative deputy chief. In 2011, Dr. Hagelgans took a position to help organize the newly formed Blue Rock Regional Fire District, a combination of four local volunteer fire companies.
Dr. Hagelgans has extensive volunteer experience, including as a volunteer for the Lancaster County Emergency Management Agency, a volunteer for the Lancaster County Public Safety Training Center advisory board, a life member of the Lancaster County Hazardous Material Team and is a leadership team member for the South Central Task Force, an eight county regional emergency management organization, for which he is also the Public Information officer and member of its Incident Management Team.
Dr. Hagelgans has various certifications and degrees, including an Associate’s Degree in Fire Science Technology, Bachelor’s Degree in Occupational Safety and Hygiene Management and a Juris Doctorate, all of which include honors. He has taught for the Pennsylvania State Fire Academy, American Red Cross, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.
Hagelgans stated, “it is my hope that my three decades of field experience and teaching experience will continue to help our program grow and to further the world class program here at Millersville.”
CDRE faculty member Dr. John Wallace and CDRE Director Dr. Sepi Yalda were recently featured in an article which referenced their current and future research regarding the Marcellus Shale boom in Pennsylvania. Dr. Wallace's research is primarly focused on water qualtiy while Dr. Yalda is looking into potential impacts of large-scale drilling and preparedness efforts.
On September 19th, Bobby Cook and Michael Conallen from ADMS (Advanced Disaster Management Simulator), a division of Environmental Tectonics Corporation provided a demonstration at Millersville University on the ADMS incident command simulator.
Those in attendance to view the demonstration were:
Dave Gribble- Fire Services Coordinator, Lancaster County.
Jim Ploumis- Fire Service Instructor, Lancaster County.
Dan Bowers- Chief of Police, New Holland Police Department.
Jeff Helm- Emergency Management Coordinator, Columbia Borough.
Bill Steele- Emergency Management Coordinator, Lancaster City Housing.
John O'Connell- Chief of Police, Mt. Joy Borough.
Greg Noll- Program Manager, South Central Task Force.
Randy Padfield- Program Coordinator, Harrisburg Area Community College.
Duane Hagelgans- Fire Commissioner, Blue Rock Regional Fire Department.
Keith Eshelman- Station Chief, Blue Rock Fire Rescue.
Fred Smith, Defense Logistics Agency, New Cumberland.
ADMS is designed for emergency and disaster management training and offers a realistic environment to train first responders, on-scene commanders, and incident command teams. It also supports Emergency Operation Center Exercises. ADMS bridges the gap between classroom and live exercises, and enables staff to gain necessary insight and skills to handle any type of emergency, from traffic accidents up to large scale disasters.
Dr. Duane Hagelgans, EMGT 601, 616 and 693 instructor, was interviewed following the events of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee for an article in the Patriot News. The article, entitled, "Corbett's calm in storm draws praise" discussed Governor Corbett's response to these events. "When it comes to disaster management, 'You always want to see strong leadership, and you want to see early strong leadership,' Hagelgans said. And Corbett deserved credit for showing leadership, he said."
Dr. Duane Hagelgans, an instructor for the MSEM program has made a few appearances on a local Fox affiliate, Fox 43 (WPMT) during the month of March.The links to his interviews have been provided.
On March 1, he discussed weather drills and preparedness.
On March 15, he discussed the South Central Task Force's involvement in supporting the Clouse Family, a local family who recently experienced a tragedy.
On March 18, Dr. Hagelgans discussed what is covered under flood insurance.
During the Fall 2010 semester, students taking EMGT 607, Emergency Mental Health and Trauma, taught by Dr. Kathy Gregoire, worked on a project in which they provided information to inform those working on the MH Disaster Plan for Nashville and surrounding counties. They are developing a plan to respond to the range of needs following the flood that occurred in May 2010, but they also anticipate the plan being a model for future disasters.
An MSEM student, Shannon Saiz, selected Nashville as a community to study for her major research project and established a contact with Angie Thompson. Previously, EMGT 607 did hypothetical work on a disaster plan but this provided them with an opportunity to do work that could benefit a community in need.
Ms. Thompson met with the class online through WIMBA and talked about beginning work on developing a Mental Health Disaster plan. She identified areas in which she would appreciate literature, ideas, and suggestions: dealing with the upcoming year anniversary, the media presentation of the disaster and responding to the needs of children and older persons. The class divided up and put together information on these three topics, which Dr. Gregoire compiled and sent to her.
Dr. Gregoire and the students will maintain contact with Ms. Thompson so that they can receive updates as to the impact of their research and to stay informed of future projects and partnerships that may arise.
The Master of Science in Emergency Management (MSEM) Program at Millersville University is working with local, regional, and state wide emergency management officials to evaluate the continuity of knowledge, skills, and abilities that MSEM graduates should possess in order to be most effective in the field. On August 9, 2010, a working group meeting was held at Millersville University with the PEMA Deputy Director for Planning and Preparedness, Timothy Sevison, along with Rick Hamm, Duane Hagelgans, and Gregory Noll, who are all members of the South Central Task Force (Pennsylvania), as well as Kay Carman of the York County Office of Emergency Management, John Eline of the Adams County Emergency Management Agency, Randy Gockley of the Lancaster County Emergency Management Agency, Steve Shaver of the Dauphin County Emergency Management Agency, and Bob Shively and Ted Wise of the Cumberland County Department of Public Safety met to review the best methods of combining practical and theoretical skills and knowledge within the field of emergency management to prepare students for careers in emergency management. Millersville University faculty in attendance were Dr. Sepideh Yalda, Coordinator of the Master of Science in Emergency Management Program, Dr. Kirsten Bookmiller, Director of Global Education & Partnerships, and Dr. Paul Specht, Professor of Industry & Technology. The meeting also focused on best practices for addressing the education and training of the future workforce development in emergency management and decision making. The recommendations will be incorporated into the strategic plan of the MSEM program and will be integrated into the existing program building practices.
Research on the Fairfax County, VA Fire & Rescue Department’s International Urban Search and Rescue Unit
From May-August 2010 Dr. Kirsten Bookmiller, of the Department of Government and Political Affairs, as well as the MSEM program, is conducting a research project on the Fairfax County, Virginia Fire and Rescue Department's International Urban Search and Rescue Unit. This project will involve a literature review, archival work, and interviews with past and present members of the unit. The Fairfax International Urban Search and Rescue Unit is only one of three in the United States, and is the Unit with the longest history. Fairfax bears further study to distill lessons learned from their experiences to help educate future responders to international disaster.