UMass Boston

Office of Emergency Management and UMass Boston Police Conduct Full-Scale Emergency Preparedness Exercise

03/27/2023| Crystal Valencia

First responders hold realistic active threat training exercise inside Campus Center

Police officer speakers to volunteers at the emergency preparedness exercise
Image By: Javier Rivas

“ Having the knowledge of what to do during a crisis will make all the difference in our community’s safety. ”

The UMass Boston Campus Center became the scene of a realistic but fictional active threat response last week, as the UMass Boston Police Department and Office of Emergency Management held a full-scale training exercise. The emergency exercise allowed campus police officers to practice active threat response in a university building and provided students, faculty, and staff with an opportunity to participate in an important emergency preparedness activity.

In a national climate where we are hearing and experiencing active threat or active shooter incidents on what appears to be a weekly basis, UMass Boston Police Chief Donald Baynard says this essential training and learning exercise is of great importance in UMBPD’s mission to keep the campus community safe.

“The exercise not only allowed the UMass Boston Police Department to evaluate their response and communication efforts, but it also provided the opportunity for the campus community to join police and the Office of Emergency Management to train, learn, evaluate, and think critically during a time of crisis,” Baynard said. “Seconds count! Having the knowledge of what to do during a crisis will make all the difference in our community’s safety.” 

Campus police officers responded to three scenarios, with students, faculty, staff, and community members acting as witnesses, bystanders and victims, enacting lessons learned from active shooter awareness training. For safety purposes, the Campus Center was closed during the exercise.

Performing Arts students apply moulage to volunteers at the emergency preparedness exercise

Chair of Performing Arts Rafael Jaen led a group of students who assisted with moulage application, making the volunteer victims appear injured.

In addition to evaluating the police response, emergency communications were tested internally to establish accuracies in response time and dissemination of information.

K9 First Responders, Medical Reserve Corps, Boston Public Health, Boston Police, MA State Police, Boston EMS, Brockton Police, Medway Police, Worcester Police, and staff and first responders from UMass Lowell, UMass Amherst, UMass Dartmouth, UMass President’s Office, Harvard, Tufts, Boston College, Colleges of Fenway, and St. Joseph College also participated in the exercise as observers, evaluators, and players.

“We tested not only police response, but also the whole community civilian response to an active threat. Using our campus buildings allows our police to bring their outstanding offsite training home and shows us just how disciplined their active threat response training is,” said Justin Comeau, director of Emergency Management. “It is critically important to test response in a high-pressure, realistic situation.”

Police and emergency management officials prep the crowd at the emergency preparedness exercise

UMass Boston has conducted emergency preparedness active threat exercises in various campus buildings on a nearly annual basis since 2012, except during the pandemic.

Police Lieutenant Kristopher Kamborian says officers within the department receive up to 40 hours annually of intense rigorous active threat training where their tactics are put to the test with lifelike scenarios involving role players.

“The UMass Boston Police Department is dedicated to the mission of keeping our campus community safe and prepared for the unthinkable,” Kamborian said. “The men and women of the UMass Boston Police Department prepare and train for ‘when’ this crisis happens, not ‘if.’  The safety of the university community is paramount, and these exercises assist in not only providing awareness and preparing the community for a crisis of this magnitude, but also assists our police to prepare their response.”

The Office of Emergency Management and UMass Boston Police offer trainings for departments and classes throughout the year. To learn more about customizing a training or exercise for a department or group, visit the Emergency Management training page.

Comeau and Kamborian lead their trainings by showing the UMass Boston Active Threat Training Video, an important tool in helping campus members begin to think about how they should react in an emergency. Please note that some of the scenes in the video appear to be realistic, but they are all staged for the purposes of the training video. View a video on the 2023 exercise on UMass Boston's Youtube Channel.