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UNCP stages mock disaster for Moore County’s CART


A military aircraft is down in northeast Moore County, and a quickly growing and rapidly spreading fire leads to an evacuation of residents, companion animals, service animals and horses. 

UNC Pembroke’s Project on Crisis and Emergency Leadership conducted a tabletop exercise for the Moore County Animal Response Team (CART) on September 20 in the Moore County Emergency Services Center in Carthage, N.C.

The Project on Crisis and Emergency Leadership (PCEL), an initiative of UNCP’s Department of Public Administration, is designed to offer education, training, research and professional services focused on the entire emergency community.

PCEL is designed to provide professional services that bring the knowledge and skills of academia to bear on the complexities of emergency leadership. 

Three Public Administration faculty members - Dr. Daniel Barbee, Dr. Warren Eller and Dr. Robert Schneider - bring a wealth of expertise and experience to the project. They are published scholars in the field and each has an array of practical experience and knowledge that they can bring to public sector, non-profit, and private sector leaders in emergency planning, response, recovery, and mitigation.

The tabletop exercise designed and presented for the Moore County CART focused on a plausible disaster that poses severe threats to the health and safety of the animal and human population of Moore County. CART is a new entity created in response to post-Katrina federal guidelines that require planning for animal rescue and evacuation or sheltering during disasters.

Professors Barbee, Eller and Schneider created the Moore County disaster scenario and facilitated the CART assessment of and response to the staged event. Graduate students in the Public Administration program were trained to serve as evaluators of the exercise and to document its key features in relation to the Moore CART plan and procedures.   Tabletop exercises are used to:

  • assess response plans;
  • discuss specific roles in the context of an unfolding and escalating scenario; and
  • identify gaps in planning or resources to be addressed.

PCEL offers a variety of other professional services as well. These include applied research, exercise development, emergency operations planning, mitigation planning, recovery planning and custom training seminars.

UNCP’s team had discussed the need for such a drill, Dr. Barbee said.

 Dr. Warren Eller

Dr. Warren Eller facilitates an exercise.

“Bob Schneider and I have discussed the need for such a project for some time, and with the recent addition of our colleague Warren Eller, we now have three individuals with national and international reputations in the field emergency management,” Dr. Barbee said. “Combined with the support of a core of dedicated graduate students we now have the capacity to do some significant applied work that can benefit the community of practitioners in all phases of emergency management.”

Dr. Schneider added: “Our project and its training component emphasizes outstanding preparation grounded in cutting-edge research, and is focused on practical application.” 

Schneider discussed the value of the project to practitioners. 

“Emergencies, natural or not, and the social vulnerabilities they often impose demand the engagement of practitioners and academics in a joint effort to create hazard resilient and safe communities,” he said.

Tabletop exercises like this one are used around the globe to practice actual disaster preparedness, Dr. Eller said.

“The potential for this project is enormous,” said Dr. Eller. “It presents an opportunity to offer high quality engagement with and needed professional services for the community of practitioners and the communities they serve. It also represents a remarkable learning experience for our students in an applied setting.”

Department Chair Dr. Michael Hawthorne offered congratulations on the successful exercise.

“This activity demonstrates the value of faculty with strengths in both research and teaching,” Dr. Hawthorne said. “We believe this project creates an opportunity to make available to communities and the leaders who govern and administer them our expertise in a manner that helps them confront real world challenges.

“It also enables us to bring an enhanced understanding of their experiences and concerns back to our students and classes,” he concluded.

More information about the Department of Public Administration’s degree programs, including the Masters of Public Administration (MPA), concentrations, which include the concentration in emergency management, and the Project on Crisis and Emergency Leadership can be found at