Public safety officials took part in a statewide emergency preparedness drill today in Holyoke Massachusetts. It involved an unfortunately all too familiar scenario—a lone gunman on a shooting spree.
The drill, involving a gunman on the campus of Holyoke Community College was a test of the coordinated response of local, campus and state police along with fire and emergency medical personnel. It was also a trial run for some new technology according to Holyoke Fire Lt Tom Paquin, who was the public information officer for the exercise.
One technology tested was a digital floor plan of the campus buildings which facilitated class room to classroom searches. A fire official with the floor plan on a laptop at the command post guided the police officers searching the building.
The digital floor plan was produced by BeSafe Technologies, which recently signed a contract to map all the public schools in Springfield.
The authorities also tested Readi Mask, a stick on face mask that shields the wearer against pepper spray and smoke. John Broderick, a student, did a test demonstration. He was sprayed directly in the face while wearing the mask.
The scenarios in the drill included a gunman who shoots multiple victims in a campus building and then kills himself as police close in. In another instance, the gunman surrenders, and there was also a practice where the make believe shooter escapes off campus by hoping a transit bus.
The drill was devised and coordinated by John Burke, Associate Director of Boston University’s School of Medicine Healthcare Emergency Management Program.
Burke will issue a report on the drill to participating agencies within 60 days.
Holyoke Police Chief James Neiswanger said given the mass shooting incidents that have happened across the country it is imperative that public safety officials prepare in advance.
There was a scare on the Holyoke Community College campus earlier this year when a man threatened to come to the campus and shoot someone. The suspect was captured before he got to the school.