Student Reflection on Disaster Simulation Exercises
Moritz, a student studying MSc International Disaster Management with the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute, discusses the recent exercise undertaken by students on the course, which was led by Kevin Arbuthnot, experienced firefighter and former Deputy Chief Fire Officer at West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service.
During the exercise, we were working on a realistic case study involving an explosion and the ensuing fire at a chemical plant in the United Kingdom.
Working in groups of roughly five, we were required to come up with tactical and strategic decisions on rescue, firefighting and evacuation operations and justify these decisions legally and morally – just like we would in a similar scenario in real life. This revealed the immense complexity of decision making in emergency settings, which is not only shaped by individual risk perceptions but also by notions of control and command and the political and social environment. Can I put people working for me at risk to save others? How do I prioritise and allocate resources in a multiple-site incident? Is it acceptable for a commanding officer to redirect rescue operations to infrastructural damage control due to requests from the central government?
This was an excellent opportunity to apply our knowledge about theoretical, institutional and legal frameworks acquired during the semester in a practical setting and was a great opportunity to gain insights in the work of a disaster manager.