Police, Fire Officials to Practice Mock-Emergency Drills Around Boston
On May 3, if you happen to see members of the police force diving into action to respond to a “situation” at the Hynes Convention Center, or witness first responders deal with a “hostage” rescue of elected officials somewhere near City Hall, don’t be alarmed: this is only a drill.
Boston’s Office of Emergency Management is hosting a regional training exercise called Urban Shield: Boston that requires police, fire, and public health officials to go through mock-emergency situations, to better prepare them for the potential of a real-life emergency.
The simulated rescue efforts will start at 8 a.m. on Saturday, and finish up by the same time the following day. The 24-hour drill will span several communities, and include collaborations with 2,000 personnel from the Metro-Boston Homeland Security Region—this includes Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Quincy, Revere, Somerville, Brookline, and Winthrop—state officials, and transit officers from the MBTA.
The faux “large-scale public safety incidents” will include exercises like handling an active-shooter situation, dealing with an “explosive device” found on a transit line, and attending to a “wounded officer,” according to a notice sent out by Mayor Marty Walsh’s office. Responders will be tasked with appropriately tackling 11 drills in total this weekend, based on past emergencies in the area. “As we saw last year during the Boston Marathon attacks, our first responders are well trained to handle any situation,” said Walsh in a statement. “Urban Shield: Boston is a unique training exercise that enables our first responders to work collaboratively in a simulated environment so they can operate effectively in real-world scenarios.”
The program, funded by a grant from the Urban Area Security Initiative, through the Department of Homeland Security, first kicked off in 2011. The Boston-area played host to the mock drills in 2012.
City officials said because the simulated drills will be practiced more than once during the 24-hour span, residents might see a lot of activity in and around Boston. “Residents should not to be alarmed. There is no danger to anyone in the area, and exercises will be done in cordoned-off areas away from the public,” officials said.