Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Today my college participated in an emergency drill with our local police force and SWAT team. The college staged a hostage situation so the entire campus got put into lockdown. We had bomb squad, SWAT and various others dealing with the situation as if it were the real thing. The board room became the media center with folks from local TV/radio there getting press releases as the situation unfolded. The administrative office became the command post where the hostage negotiator and others operated from. We had snipers in camo on the roof and all sorts of interesting things playing out. We all knew the drill was coming as a first test run of our emergency plan. In Spring term we will have one that we won't know is scheduled. Overall it went reasonably well, considering the amount of ground and number of buildings and people that had to be secured. At one point a UPS truck somehow got on campus and was trying to deliver packages (apparently the cops who were securing the entrance to campus had been released to take care of regular calls once their part of the drill had been demonstrated.) I can just imagine how odd it must have seemed to the poor delivery person to see NO ONE moving, all doors locked and armed cops that really looked sorta like terrorists lurking around the buildings. But for the most part it was a good thing. We found out which parts of the campus are problematic for walkie talkie communication, who needs different access to certain keys, and got to field test the emergency message system set to send warnings or information to people's cell phones. Hopefully we will never have to deal with an actual situation like the tragedy at Virginia Tech. But whether it be that, a fire, chemical spill, extreme storm or any other sort of emergency it just makes sense to have a plan in place.