AMHERST, Mass. – 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 on Thursday, April 10 to test readiness of sheltering plans during a large-scale emergency such as a tornado or a severe winter storm.
The exercise will take place from 3-9 p.m. in the Mullins Center. 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.
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.
UMass Amherst partners include University Health Services, Environmental Health and Safety, College of Nursing, UMass Police Department, Dining Services, Disability Services and childcare services.
Western Massachusetts and Hampshire County MRC units, the American Red Cross, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the Hampshire Emergency Animal Response Team, the Amherst Fire Department, Amherst Health Department and Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency will also take part in the drill.
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.