It's a lesson you can't get in front of a chalkboard.
These students are learning how to respond to emergencies. Among the nearly 50 college students at the State Preparedness Training Center is Jenna LaTourette.
"I want to be an Intelligence Analyst, but I really try to keep every door open. I try to get a feel for each field and participate in things such as this in each field so I can really solidify my interest for my future career path," said LaTourette, a University at Albany student.
This is the third annual NY Hope Disaster Response Exercise. Scenarios include wilderness search and rescue, water rescue awareness, operations during a cybersecurity attack, and urban search and rescue.
"I concentrate on Homeland Security," LaTourette said. "There are so many aspects that are just undermined, I feel like, and just kind of left out that people don't think of. So I think it's important to really touch every base so everything comes together and do the best you can to protect our homeland."
By taking students out of the classroom, the exercises provide valuable learning experiences.
"It is completely another thing to be in it. To be working in a rubble pile, to be looking for your objectives, to be rescuing individuals. To hear it and be in the middle of it is life-changing for our students," said Annie Connors. She is the Assistant Director of Experiential Learning for the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity at UAlbany.
"We did the wilderness search and rescue which was very interesting," LaTourette said. "Something that I've never really known anything about and now I feel like I've left with a basic skill level."
Students are from schools near and far including UAlbany, Elmira College, and even the University of North Carolina-Asheville. The exercises continue through Sunday.