Utica College put themselves to the test, Friday. The college held a full-scale exercise, along with the Utica Police Department and other crisis and emergency management personnel, to evaluate the response of both themselves and their emergency partners, in the event of a critical incident scenario.
The "victims" appeared bloody and were placed on stretchers. A helicopter hovered overhead. The director of emergency management for the college oversaw the exercise. Oneida County's director of emergency services management was there, observing. There was a large police and emergency personnel presence on campus for the drill, from 7:45 am until noon.
"Those things that they train year-round, many for decades, to do the job that they do, which is a very difficult job, we give them the opportunity to actually come here and do that and perform those duties in a simulated situation and it just makes everyone better," said UC Director of Emergency Management, Shad Crowe.
"You're never fully prepared and the idea that it can't happen here often ebbs its way back into the mindset after a certain amount of time has passed. You never know, so you always have to prepare yourself."
Crowe's words are driven home by the reality of March, 2018. The college held an exercise similar to Friday's drill in January of that year, and, two months later, found themselves in the midst of the real thing, when the college received threats that brought an overwhelming law enforcement response and a six-hour lockdown on campus.
"As we are all aware, there has been a considerable increase in the number of violent attacks and threats on college campuses over the past decade," says College Director of Media Relations, Christine Leogrande. "This disturbing trend demands a deeper level of vigilance and requires deliberate, ongoing and comprehensive planning and preparation for a wide range of emergency scenarios."
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