December 22, 2014

Nebraska students head east to help out in Sandy’s aftermath

Union College Junior Matthew Russell examines a rescue raft while preparing to depart for the East Coast to help with Superstorm Sandy cleanup/Union College photo

A team of students and instructors from a Nebraska college is on its way to help with relief efforts in wake of Superstorm Sandy.

Director of International Rescue and Relief Program Rick Young with Union College in Lincoln says 10 students and two instructors left for Pennsylvania before sunrise this morning.

It’s not the first time a Union College rescue team has responded to disaster.

“We’ve gone to the tornadoes down in Alabama. We went to Hurricane Katrina. We went down to Haiti; sent 40 students down to Haiti,” Young tells Nebraska Radio Network. “So, we do respond on a fairly regular basis.”

Young says it’s not known what will be required of the team.

“You never know when you respond to one of these things,” according to Young. “Sometimes, you get there and you’re just on a stand-by and you’re not needed. Sometimes, you go right in and you get to work.”

Students in the program are trained as emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and certified in as many as 15 classifications. The team traveling east is trained in swift-water rescue.

“It’s a hands-on program here at the school, but this actually gives them real life experience, seeing the disaster first hand and the operation and the organization that goes into place,” Young says. “So, it’s just a greater learning to cap off their program here at the college.”

The students don’t earn extra credit for the experience, according to Young, and will have some course work to catch up on when they return.

Union College Senior Tony Cameron checks his dry suit before packing it on Monday evening/Union College photo