Campus & Community

Stevens Students Volunteer for Newark Airport Disaster Drill

A team of students representing Stevens and the Center for Secure and Resilient Maritime Commerce (CSR) are doing their part to ensure passengers at Newark International Airport are guaranteed the quickest, safest and most thorough emergency response in the case of a plane crash or other runway incident.

Fifteen students volunteered as “actors” for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s (PANYNJ) full-scale emergency exercise, held at the airport on Oct. 20, 2012. The two-hour disaster drill – which took many months to plan – created a real-life simulation of a crash between a passenger jet and a cargo jet, allowing first responders to practice command elements, tactical response, medical treatment of casualties and other critical functions.

The Stevens team primarily simulated living crash victims. Sprawled on the ground all across the runway while fake smoke and crash noises echoed around them, some donned fake injuries while others held index cards which explained their symptoms. Meanwhile, volunteers from other groups played the role of injured, panicked or disoriented passengers who needed to be assisted off the plane. Dummies were used to simulate the dead.

“Fulfilling the role of a victim in the airplane collision exercise was a safe opportunity to gain a unique insight into what an accident of that magnitude may entail,” said Stevens student Brandon Gorton.

Over two hours, an ordered series of emergency response activities took place involving firefighters, police officers, and emergency medical technicians.

“Interacting with the first responders was easily the most valuable component of the day,” said Gorton. “It was mutually beneficial because as we were able to facilitate the training of those who are tasked with emergency response, and they enabled us to be better prepared should we find ourselves in a similar situation.”

“It is through CSR's partnerships and collaborations with the emergency response and first responder community that we are able to provide our students with unique opportunities to engage in hands-on, real-world activities, such as the Newark Airport disaster drill,” said Beth DeFares, CSR director of education. "These activities enhance the educational experience of our students by giving them a new context as to how engineering, science and technology can play a part in emergency management and response applications.”

The students who participated in the PANYNJ exercise were Kris Alvarez, Oleg Bratsilov, Alina Duran, Chris Francis, Rob Galos, Brandon Gorton, Kate Janes, Blaise Linn, Alicia Mahon, Eric Martinelli, Eric Nelson, Mike Placentra II, Alex Pollara, Grace Python and Julian Torres.

Watch video of the exercise from CBS News.