Northwest Missouri State University hosted its 5th annual Missouri Hope disaster response field training exercise over the weekend.
The three-day program had 56 student participants, 80 student exercise staff, 60 local emergency response volunteers and 250 role players.
Event organizers say the training gets their students ready for real-life situations.
"We are training up the next generation of first responders, and we want to make sure we are showing them what realities are out there before they get to that job," said John Carr, Missouri Hope exercise director and NWMSU emergency and disaster management program coordinator.
The training included stimulation exercises in mass casualty response, water rescue, high-angle rescue and disaster medical operations.
Students from all over the country are eligible to participate in the exercise. Carr said they saw students from Oklahoma, North Carolina, New York, Florida and Washington D.C.
"They're all coming out to learn about what a domestic disaster emergency situation looks like," Carr said.
Participants say having this hands-on learning opportunity teaches the students how to act in high stress situations.
Sophomore and emergency and disaster management major Mackenzie Baker said
"You don't know how you are going to react," said participant Mackenzie Baker, a sophomore studying emergency and disaster management " You might freeze up, but if you have this training you are not going to freeze up as much. You're going to know what to do, You are going to learn what you are capable of."
Medical volunteer Gilberto Filsinger said he took the course as a student in 2013, and still uses what he learned during his training now in his professional career.
"Now I see stress and these environments that we create as an opportunity for growth and to challenge myself, and I use that every day in the hospital," he said.
Filsinger said he decided to come back and volunteer as a medical assistant because he knows how much Missouri Hope helped him.
"I fell in love with the program. I think it does great things for the community," Filsinger said.
The program caters to all levels of training from beginner to advanced.
Staff Sgt. with the 129 Field Artillery Mitchell Mason said they bring in a lot of their own equipment to work with advanced nursing students.
"We can do a lot more advance practice and starting IVs, pushing our own drugs, things like that that these civilian nurses really need in their scope of practice," Mason said.
Missouri Hope is designed to help students in their line of work after graduating from college. Filsinger said having this training on his resume helps him stand out as a job candidate.
"I'm using it on my application for grad school. I use it for my applications when I'm thinking about moving to a new job," Filsinger said. "It's an aspect that sets me apart from any other type of candidate that might be applying for the same position."
NWMSU partnered with several local agencies to host the event. They included Maryville Public Safety, Nodaway and Buchanan County Emergency Management, Nodaway County Ambulance District, LifeFlight and LifeNet Air Ambulances, SEMA Region H Marine Hazmat Team, the 129th Field Artillery Battalion Missouri Army National Guard and the 139th Airlift Wing of the Missouri National Guard.