University of Nebraska at Omaha senior and emergency management major Kain Martin spent Saturday morning in Methodist Hospital as a 17-year-old girl with lacerations to the head.
Martin was one of just over 90 UNO students to volunteer for the triannual Eppley Airfield plane crash exercise.
“I participated as a part of the Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK) day of service, which conveniently worked out very well with my major,” Martin said. “The experience was fantastic. I got to meet new members of ODK and see a full scale exercise of a disaster from the public health aspect of emergency management.”
According to UNO student and Volunteer Coordinator with the Douglas County Emergency Management Agency David Kilduff, Methodist Hospital’s scenario involved a plane that clipped the top of a cement plant near the hospital and then made a belly landing in a field. By the time it stopped, the plane had crashed into stands where a high school band was practicing.
“This caused injuries to more victims besides those on the plane,” Kilduff said. “Contaminants released into the air from the cement plant. They also gave one of the UNO student volunteers a plastic training replica of a handgun to see if the hospital staff would find it and if so what they would do to make sure it was secure.”
Martin said that he would encourage anyone to volunteer for these exercises.
“It helps Omaha’s preparedness and is a great chance to meet classmates you otherwise wouldn’t,” Martin said.
Criminal Justice major Michaela Klabunde also saw the exercise as an important experience, and said that emergency management “is a huge part of how we function as a society.”
“What impressed me most was that there were parents, older generations, college students and even children participating,” Klabunde said. “That’s important because when something catastrophic comes our way we need people, no matter the age, to be able to jump in or simply remain calm. It takes a village, and Omaha is definitely a community that works well together.”
The simulated plane crash involved 17 local agencies, including area hospitals.