ECSU emergency management professor, Dr. Kevin Kupietz, standing left, works with Disaster Medical Assistance task force members in Washington D.C. over the Fourth of July holiday.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Elizabeth City State University emergency management professor, Dr. Kevin Kupietz, has been busy not only working with students remotely, but also working with the National Disaster Medical Assistance task force to provide his expertise across the country.
Dr. Kupietz’s most recent assignment was to provide medical support during the Washington D.C. Fourth of July celebration. Providing assistance at large, national celebrations is not unusual in and of itself, but this year the stakes were higher than normal, he said.
“This year was certainly unusual as we dealt with COVID and potential civil issues,” said Dr. Kupietz. “We set up medical assistance shelters across the National Mall that stretched more than two miles end-to-end, and provided medical care as needed.”
One of Dr. Kupietz’s ongoing lessons for ECSU emergency management students is preparation. He says while answering the call to assist during disasters, it’s important to plan for them in advance.
Working a large-scale event such as the national Fourth of July celebration is, he said, an exercise in planning ahead.
“These operations are huge planning issues trying to contend with large numbers of people, moving parts and unknowns,” he said. “It’s another great example of the idea that emergency management students do not just wait for disasters to strike for them to work.”
As a professor of emergency management, Dr. Kupietz brings his experience working on the ground during disasters and events such as the Fourth celebration. He is able to share with his students, firsthand examples of his work, such as coordinating aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, in Houston, Texas.
Most recently, since the pandemic began, Dr. Kupietz worked with the national task force to provide aid to cruise ship passengers who had been stranded at sea due to concerns over exposure to COVID-19.
Set up at a site in Georgia, Dr. Kupietz worked coordinating food for the ship passengers. He said they were feeding 500 people per day.
Since that time, Dr. Kupietz has been on call with the task force. He has also been working with ECSU faculty to provide summer programs to area middle school students, and preparing for a new semester, working with the university’s emergency management students.