UMass participates in regional shelter exercise

UMass and Northampton Emergency Managers teamed up with the Western Regional Homeland Security Advisory Council to “exercise” Hampshire County’s Emergency Shelter plan recently.  The scenario was based on a tornado scenario in the county, but the need to operate a shelter could come from a variety of natural or man-made incidents.

Representatives from 15 emergency response organizations were on hand for the exercise, including MRC and College of Nursing members and representatives from Environmental Health and Safety, the Office of Emergency Management, and Health Services from UMass.  There were close to 200 participants from throughout Hampshire County.

Participants began the day by rotating among several different workshops and presentations. Topics ranged from best sheltering practices to caring for vulnerable populations.  Officials then transitioned into the exercise portion of the event, setting up a mock shelter in the school’s cafeteria.

Emergency Managers of many of the communities and organizations on hand also attended a “command staff” session, where there was a Table Top Exercise focused on the scenario and the county’s response plan.  Also participating were representatives from the Red Cross.

Besides UMass and the Red Cross, participating organizations included representatives from Northampton, Amherst, Easthampton, South Hadley, Chesterfield and Ware, the Hampshire County House of Correction, the Medical Reserve Corps, Cooley Dickenson Hospital, Smith and Mt. Holyoke Colleges and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.