Innovative Isenberg Course Features Two High-Profile Visitors Talking on Crisis Management
March 19, 2014
Now in its second year, Anna Nagurney's innovative course, Humanitarian Logistics and Healthcare, introduces cutting-edge crisis management and planning skills to Isenberg and other UMass Amherst students. "My goal is to give our students the tools and mindset to act decisively and adaptably in human crises like storms and earthquakes, food shortages, financial contagions, and pandemics," explains Nagurney, who is John F. Smith Memorial Professor of Operations Management.
Rouzier and Nagurney speak together before class through classwork and team research projects, students develop skill sets in vulnerability assessment and risk management. They also learn the importance of building resilient relief infrastructures, including emergency supply chains and communications networks. And Professor Nagurney, who is a nationally admired modeler/problem solver of complex systems and their interactions, balances that agenda with intensely human accounts by working professionals who visit the classroom to impart their experiences in the field.
Two high-profile visitors to the course in March were UMass Amherst family and sports medicine physician Pierre Rouzier and Springfield Channel 40 ABC/Fox6 news anchor Dave Madsen. This news story focuses on Dr. Rouzier's relief work in Haiti and at the 2013 Boston Marathon. A follow-up story, which will appear next week, will explore Madsen's media work with local and national crises.
UMass staff physician Pierre Rouzier confessed that he is drawn to disasters, predominantly to help the victims but also because, "I love the action; I love the craziness." Trained in family and sports medicine (he is sports medicine physician to UMass Amherst's varsity teams), Rouzier recounted his heart-wrenching experiences following Haiti's catastrophic 2010 earthquake and during last year's Boston Marathon bombing.
Haiti. Although Rouzier arrived in Haiti nine weeks after the quake, the human melodrama remained overwhelming, with 1 million Haitians homeless, and hundreds of thousands injured and exposed to the elements, disease, and depredation. Teaming up with a fellow physician, a pharmacist, and a nurse, Rouzier spent nine days treating a glacially moving queue of Haitians in a make-shift hospital in the city of Laogon. (The team slept outside the clinic in tents.)
In his work, Rouzier drew on his years of training and experience and his ability to improvise in light of a shortage of supplies and surgical resources (applying, for example, metal fixator frames in place of surgical rods and pins for fractured long bones.)
Boston. Last March, working as a triage doctor in a medical tent near the Boston Marathon's finish line, Rouzier and an assistant, hearing two explosions, ran 75 yards toward the bombsite, where they encountered "what seemed like 40 people on the ground" and accompanying carnage and chaos. "People didn't run away, but selflessly dove right in," he recalled. Helping anyone whom they could, the two soon returned to their tent. With barriers down, stretchers and ambulances had rapidly arrived at the scene. There are no more victims, they were told. And there might be another bomb. Best to evacuate any runners from their own tent. "After that, we wandered around Boston looking for runners," Rouzier told the students.
Aftereffects. "It was killing me that I didn't do enough at the Boston Marathon," he confessed. And some of the things he encountered in Haiti, he said, "broke my heart." "Were we putting bandaids on a gaping wound?" he asked metaphorically. "I had a hard time with that. After Haiti, I probably had PTSD," he confessed. To allay his own doubts in the wake of both disasters, Rouzier has experimented with therapy, done public speaking, and engaged in fund raising. He has returned to Haiti to teach sports medicine and plans to return to this year's Boston Marathon. "That's right," he remarked. "Everybody who worked at last year's event is dying to go back."