Disaster preparation expert gives Ozarks students advice on effective communications

Release Date: 4/26/2006

Distance learning technology a key factor in students' future careers

CLARKSVILLE, ARK. (April 26, 2006) – Technology that has revolutionized education and communications for emergency workers will increasingly affect the rest of the workplace as well, a speaker told an audience at University of the Ozarks April 24.

“People need to know what’s going on,” said Randy Corbin, a vice president at Fire and Emergency Training Network (FETN). “They need to be alert at all times.”

Audio, video and computer technology that is used for distance learning, in which an instructor communicates with students in a remote location, is used by fire chiefs and other managers in emergency programs – and can be used by managers in private business as well – to train and update their personnel across a wide geographic area, Corbin said.

Corbin, a longtime firefighter and former fire chief in Lewisville, Texas, was in Clarksville to shoot a fire education videotape featuring Ozarks students. He spoke to about 35 students and community members as part of Ozarks’ Distinguished Speaker Series, sponsored by Ozarks’ chapters of Phi Beta Lambda (Future Business Leaders) and Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE).

FETN produces safety and training videotapes and communications programs for organizations including police and fire departments, emergency medical teams and federal agencies such as United States Customs and Border Patrol.

Distance learning means personnel do not have to travel to a central facility for training, Corbin said. He also pointed out that having training and communications information stored on a central computer server spares organizations the time and expense of having to distribute large numbers of CD-ROMS or other storage units.

“You can distribute information consistently,” Corbin said. Keeping a consistent flow of information allows personnel to be better trained when crises or disasters strike, said Corbin, who was part of urban search and rescue teams in New York immediately following the September 11 attacks and in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Rita last year.

Corbin came to Ozarks at the invitation of the local chapter of Fire Corps, a group of about 60 Ozarks students who volunteer on local fire safety programs.

Fire Corps, part of the federal government’s Citizen Corps, allows community members to volunteer with their local fire and emergency medical departments, assisting with tasks including education and administrative duties.

The Ozarks chapter is one of three in the United States to be featured in an FETN videotape, said Dayna Hilton, coordinator of the Ozarks Fire Corps chapter and director of major grants at the university. The videotape will be distributed to fire departments around the United States, Hilton said.