Rubble pile used for response exercises and training at the State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany, NY
August 8, 2023

DHSES Hosts Students for Disaster Response Exercises

New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Hosts Nearly 50 College Students for Disaster Response Exercises at State Preparedness Training Center
Students From New York State and Beyond Partner with First Responders at State Preparedness Training Center in Mohawk Valley for Hands-on Training
Annual Exercise Hosted by State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Prepares Students for Emergency Management Careers

The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, in partnership with the Consortium for Humanitarian Service and Education today announced the successful completion of this year’s “NY Hope” Disaster Response exercise for college students at the State Preparedness Training Center in Oneida County. The four-day exercise, culminating on August 6, provided students with training for future careers in homeland security and emergency services. This year’s exercise built on previous NY Hope events held in Oriskany and utilized many of the State Preparedness Training Center’s world-class training venues. The exercise gave students training in leadership; teamwork and confidence building; disaster response and medical operations; incident command system and interoperable communications, and emergency services partner agency training.

New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said, “Our field is growing as more and more climate-related disasters disrupt our daily lives and put people at risk. The next wave of emergency responders needs to be equipped with the latest information and training to manage this new reality.. We are proud to offer this training for the future generation in emergency management and there’s no better venue than the State Preparedness Training Center.”

The NY Hope exercise provides free training to students, community members, and local and state responders. It is sponsored by the Consortium for Humanitarian Service and Education; the University of Albany College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cyber Security; and Elmira College.

During the training, participants worked together in teams to tackle challenges including mass casualty situations, water rescue operations, secondary triage and treatment, damage assessment, wilderness search and rescue, and emergency response involving a cyber-attack.

Students participating this week represent different universities or colleges around the country, including:

The University at Albany

The Citadel

Elmira College

Fairfield University

Immaculata University

Northwest Missouri State University

University of Missouri-Kansas City

Paul Smith College

Saint John Fisher University

SUNY Geneseo

Thirteen of the students attending the University at Albany completed this year’s NY Hope exercise. Each day, students rotated through scenarios that recreated the challenges and conditions faced when a humanitarian organization responds to a disaster. For example, one student team conducted damage assessments of a simulated collapsed structure at the training center’s urban search and rescue rubble pile while another team staffed an incident command center responsible for managing the structure collapse incident.  The exercise taught students the basics of triage, first aid, and use of the Incident Command System (ICS). 

This year’s NY Hope exercise included for the first time an advanced medical lane where nursing students cared for victims of a mass casualty event staged at the training center’s Cityscape and train car venues. The students trained alongside emergency room physicians to treat the victims.

Other training scenarios included having teams’ respond to a simulated cyber security attack, conduct a wilderness search and rescue, and respond to a mass casualty incident. Students also received rescue training from Office of Fire Prevention and Control technical rescue personnel at the State’s popular Swift Water/Flood Rescue training venue. At the venue, students learned how to use throw bags for rescuing people in swift water conditions. Students also observed demonstrations of an automobile trying to drive through a simulated flooded or washed-out road and how these types of incidents often result in driver drowning situations.

University at Albany College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security & Cybersecurity Dean Robert P. Griffin said, “We are so glad we can work with DHSES, CHSE, and partnering colleges and universities on this great field training exercise for our students to gain experience in disaster response. We want to prepare our CEHC students for future careers preparing for, and responding to, disasters.”

NY Hope 2023 Director Deborah Woglam said, “We deeply appreciate the opportunity to train our students at the State Preparedness Training Center. This exercise helps our participants to solidify what they might like to do in their careers, allows them to understand the many roles in disaster response while also learning teamwork, leadership, and followership. Learning occurs across all levels; from the participants in the exercise to the former participants, now staff, who support and train the next generation of nurses and first responders.”

University at Albany CEHC Staff Member Tyler Flood said, “The NY Hope exercise has given me various opportunities to improve vital skills, such as leadership and the basics of being a first responder. When I was a participant, I came into this exercise not knowing what to expect. When I left the training, I gained valuable information that I will use on a day-to-day basis with any job in which I might partake. I decided to come back to the exercise as a staff member to give back the experience that I greatly appreciated last year. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all the agencies involved that provide their time and services free of charge to make this exercise so special.”

Saint John Fisher University Senior Nursing Student Kristina Hawkins said, “I came to NY Hope because I love learning and since I am interested in emergency medicine and trauma, this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I hope to gain confidence in my professional skills as a nurse and hands on experience like this is my favorite way of learning.”

About the State Preparedness Training Center

New York State is home to one of the premier first responder training facilities in the nation – the State Preparedness Training Center (SPTC) in Oriskany. Located on 1,100 acres, the SPTC offers an extensive series of realistic training venues, a Swift Water and Flood Training (SWFT) venue, a 45,000 square foot CityScape complex, and an Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) simulator. From classroom lectures and discussions to skill development lanes to reality and high-performance scenario-based training, the SPTC offers state, local, and federal agencies a spectrum of opportunities for dynamic emergency first responder training.

About the State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services

The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) provides leadership, coordination, and support to prevent, protect against, prepare for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate disasters and other emergencies. For more information, follow @NYSDHSES on Facebook, Instagram, and X (formerly known as Twitter) or visit