With an increasing amount of violence incidents occurring at schools and college campuses, the ability to respond effectively to a significant crisis has been shown to be invaluable. While some colleges prepare themselves by holding tabletop briefings or meetings to discuss their plans, Hamilton takes a much bolder approach.
More than 150 members of the local police, county sheriff, fire department, medical personnel, the NY State Police Emergency Response Team and the campus community participated in an intense, full-scale, realistic drill meant to test teamwork and response times on Wednesday, June 18. In addition to the approximately 40 members of the Hamilton community who volunteered to play roles in the unfolding crisis scenario, other participating agencies included Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare, New York State Police, Central Oneida County Volunteer Ambulance Corps (COCVAC), Oneida County Sheriff’s Department and Clinton Fire Department. Members of Hamilton’s Emergency Response Team were evaluated by the New York State Police and the Oneida County Sheriff’s Department on how well the members responded to the unfolding crisis.
"Hamilton College has established itself as a leader in providing the safest campus possible for the students, faculty and administration that attend the institution," said New York State Police Captain Francis Coots. "The college has partnered with law enforcement and other public safety agencies to provide training that is challenging and rewarding. This training has strengthened the partnerships that were first established by Hamilton College Campus Safety Department."
Several area media outlets in the area covered the half-day event including WUTR (ABC affiliate), WKTV (NBC affiliate), Time Warner Cable News and WIBX950 radio. In a test of the college’s responsiveness to the media, some of these reporters also played themselves in the scenario, pursuing the media relations staff for information on the simulated emergency.
In commenting on this fifth in a series of yearly exercises, Director of Campus Safety Fran Manfredo said, “These exercises give us the opportunity to practice what we've learned and to build important relationships with public safety professionals who undoubtedly will be at Hamilton in the event of an actual emergency. They also allow Hamilton's Emergency Response Team (HERT) to identify areas of opportunity and concentrate on improving those areas prior to any actual emergency. In my opinion, you can't ask for a better outcome from an exercise.”
Steven Dziura, Jr., EMS Chief for Central Onedia County Volunteer Ambulance, added, "Throughout the year we are continuously training to enhance our knowledge and improve our response capabilities for an event such as this. Having the ability to watch written plans come to life in a full scale exercise senario allows us to identify our strenghts and weaknesses. The lessons learned from this exercise will be utilized to develop future training programs and improve upon current response plans."