Columbia Southern University Faculty Members Activated Nationwide to Fight COVID-19


ORANGE BEACH, Ala. – Several of Columbia Southern University’s College of Safety and Emergency Services professors are on double-duty as they join the front lines of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S.

These members of CSU’s faculty, whose expertise spans across a variety of public safety topics including criminal justice, emergency medical services administration, emergency services management, fire science, homeland security and occupational safety and health, are doing their all to combat the current crisis while still teaching others how to save lives.

According to College of Safety and Emergency Services dean Misti Kill, Ph.D., members of the faculty are stationed everywhere from Washington to Georgia.

“Not only are we faculty here, we’re also front-line professionals ourselves,” said Aaron Rhone, Ph.D., emergency medical services administration professor. Rhone was assigned to the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Emergency Operations Center at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) headquarters in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

“I’ve been sending out personal protection equipment (PPE) to ensure that our front-line health care workers, our EMS providers, our first-responders of all sorts are taken care of in this fight against COVID-19,” he said.

Douglas Wehmeyer, who teaches fire science, was called to serve in Ohio.

“I am currently serving as the operations and planning section chief for the Deerfield Township emergency operations center,” said Wehmeyer. “The coronavirus has challenged emergency responders and calls us to rethink how we handle the routine responses that we make on a daily basis. The key for us is ensuring that we keep our community safe while ensuring the operational staff of our fire department is maintained as well.”

As an online university that has students in all 50 states, CSU’s faculty members live and work nationwide. Many professors are continuing to serve in their home communities, while some, like Karen Grabenstein, have been deployed to other areas of the country.

Adjunct professor and veteran paramedic Karen Grabenstein has been assigned to the Unified Command Center for the state of New York. She is the vice chair of the executive board of the Georgia Emergency Medical Services Association and president of the group’s educators division. She teaches emergency medical services administration for CSU.

“I have interacted via email with several of my current students who are serving New York City in various aspects for COVID-19. It is incredible to think how many people I am working with are current, past and future CSU students,” she said. “They are making a difference in New York City/New Jersey and I have to believe passion and education are coming together to produce a result that will help alleviate the stressors placed on these cities and bring humanity back.”

Daniel Coss, D.Sc., CPP, CHSP, CHEP, who teaches emergency services management, is currently serving as the incident management assistance team leader in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Coss summed up his thoughts in one response: “We teach our students what we do. We are academic practitioners.”
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