UMass Amherst and Hampshire County Medical Reserve Corps Conduct Emergency Shelter Exercise

*** MEDIA ADVISORY ***

When:  Thursday, April 10, 3-9 p.m.

Where:  Mullins Center, 200 Commonwealth Ave., UMass Amherst

The UMass Amherst Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), UMass Office of Emergency Management, Hampshire County MRCs and affiliated partners are hosting a full-scale, overnight sheltering exercise to test readiness of sheltering plans during a large-scale emergency such as a tornado or a severe winter storm.

More than 275 volunteers and emergency response partners will participate in the exercise, which will simulate establishment of an emergency shelter for residents and their pets during a tornado scenario in Hampshire County.                                   

The exercise is funded by a grant from the Western Region Homeland Security Advisory Council, working through the Hampshire Regional Emergency Planning Committee. Hampshire County has developed plans for each local community to adapt to its individual needs. UMass Amherst is testing its sheltering capabilities.

Activities being tested during the shelter exercise include shelter registration, medical and mental health care that will include “victim volunteers” appearing injured, ill or upset, childcare, sleeping and dining arrangements, and animal sheltering. Ham radio operators, and build-your-own emergency kit activities will be included as well as volunteer stories from the field. Photo and video opportunities, including setup of cots and sleeping areas, evacuee feeding and live animal participation are anticipated after 3 p.m.

As part of the exercise all participants are asked to donate non-perishable food to benefit Not Bread Alone, an Amherst based soup kitchen.

Contact: Ann Becker, R.N., UMass Amherst MRC unit director, 413/577-5193,

                abecker@uhs.umass.edu