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SUNY Plattsburgh Students Educated on Emergency Preparedness

fire simulation

SUNY Plattsburgh students learned about residence hall safety, driving under the influence, first aid and more at the annual Emergency Preparedness Day event on campus Sept. 20.

Mike Caraballo, the university’s director of emergency management, said the event had been held on campus for much of the past decade, with a break in the earlier years of the pandemic.

Impaired Driving Simulation

In Amite Plaza outside the Angell College Center, Russell Haag, an educator with Clinton County STOP-DWI and a Clinton County Sheriff’s Department deputy, supervised students driving a pedal cart through an obstacle course with traffic cones while wearing one of two pairs of Fatal Vision goggles, which simulate intoxication from either alcohol or marijuana.

While students have fun with the demonstrations, “we want it to be serious,” Haag said. “We don’t want you driving impaired.”

Kye Persampire, an undeclared sophomore from Belmore, N.Y., tried navigating the cart in and out of the orange traffic cones.

Persampire discussed the experience with Haag afterward, acknowledging that they were driving much slower than they would without the impairment googles.

Drivers going much slower than the speed limit can be a clue to police that that driver could be impaired, Haag said.

impaired visionThe reality is drunken drivers kill and injure people every year, and it is a choice to get behind the wheel of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, he said.

Students also tried completing field sobriety tests while wearing the goggles.

New York State Police were on hand to answer students’ questions about a career in policing.

“We’re here making contact with the community, so the community knows we’re here for them,” said Trooper James D’Ambro, school and community outreach coordinator for Troop B.

Dorm Fire Simulation ‘Scary’

Undeclared sophomore Collin Clancy of Saranac, N.Y., watched the mock dorm room fire demonstration between Champlain Valley Hall and the Angell College Center Wednesday afternoon.

Clancy was with his friend Giuseppina Gallicchio, an undeclared sophomore from Plattsburgh.

Both students said the demonstration impacted how they think about fire safety.

It took less than two minutes before the mock dorm room was completely engulfed in flames and smoke before firefighters quenched it.

“Seeing it (the fire) spread so fast is super scary,” Gallicchio said, adding that one of her friends lost everything in a house fire years ago.

“It made it very clear that if there is a fire, the plan is to get out because there’s not enough time to do anything about it,” Clancy said. “But I’m glad I did (attend). I knew fire was dangerous … but he said a minute 45 (seconds) and the TV had exploded, and everything’s gone. It’s crazy.”

enyedi rescueA high-rise residence hall rescue had the fire department using its aerial ladder to “rescue” President Alexander Enyedi from Banks Hall’s 6th floor. He later said it was a good experience to see in action so students are aware of what goes into the procedure during a real emergency.

‘Emergencies Can Happen at Any Time’

Kelci Henn, head women’s tennis coach and athletics operations assistant, spoke to students about first aid training, a half-semester one-credit class.

“An emergency can happen at any time,” Henn said.

hennShe said people should call 911 if they see someone in medical distress before assisting them.

Those who aren’t certified in CPR or AED can provide comfort to someone experiencing a medical emergency before paramedics arrive, Henn said.

Since Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills collapsed on the field while experiencing a cardiac event last year, interest in CPR and AED training has increased across campus, she said.

‘Won’t Panic if Prepared’

Caraballo said it’s important to know how different types of emergencies affect you depending on your circumstances.

“If you have an understanding of what you’ll do in an emergency, it prepares you in that you make informed decisions,” he said. “You don’t panic, and you won’t make decisions that would hurt you or your family or increase the risk of more damage to your property.”

Students practiced navigating a smoke-filled room during a demonstration at Whiteface Hall that used theater smoke, Caraballo said.

“We had firefighters providing some important information as they went through the course. They were really excited to actually take part and see what it felt like (to navigate smoke),” he said.

The day’s programming concluded Wednesday evening with the “After the Fire,” a featuring Shawn Simons and Alvaro Llanos, former Seton Hall University roommates, who spoke about their experience as fire survivors after a blaze broke out in their residence hall in 2000.

For campus safety tips and more information, visit plattsburgh.edu/about/offices-divisions/student-affairs/emergency-management.

— Story, Photos by Assistant Director of Communications Felicia Krieg

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