FIU grad students participating in 2-day earthquake drill

WEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - The final step in the pursuit of a degree for some Florida International University graduate students is getting all shook up this weekend.

There is no final exam for the first graduating class of FIU’s Academy for International Disaster Preparedness. In what constitutes a first for the academic institution, the 39 students are participating in a full-scale, 48-hour disaster drill simulating a catastrophic earthquake.

In the drill, the group is divided in teams that will have to build a base of operations and conduct field assessments.

FIU officials praised the participants’ dedication. “These students are the best and so unique. They really come from our community,” said Ruben Almaguer, FIU’s Assistant Vice President for Disaster Management and Emergency Operations. “They’re firefighters, they’re law enforcement officers, they’re in the military, the U.S. Coast Guard. We have a doctor, we have a lawyer, we have other civilians who want to get into this field.”

Saturday afternoon, students worked directly with Miami-Dade Fire Rescue’s Air Rescue and Marine Divisions and the U.S. Coast Guard. They will be transported aboard a Coast Guard vessel and a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue fire boat. They will also assist in aerial damage assessment using a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue helicopter to evaluate a simulated disaster site across Biscayne Bay.

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