NEWBURGH – Mount Saint Mary College’s yearly emergency preparedness exercise on August 4 brought together campus security, the City of Newburgh Police Department, Mobile Life Support Services, Inc., and other local agencies to train for an active shooter situation.
The purpose of the exercise was to enable the college to further develop its existing emergency planning, and to enable local emergency responders to test interagency programs for handling large incidents, including severe storms, power outages, and more.
The simulation involved a single shooter who injured 14 people and placed small explosive devices in a building on campus before being neutralized by City of Newburgh Police. The actors playing victims were evacuated from the building and, had it been a real emergency, they would have been brought to St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital by Mobile Life Support Service, Inc.
“The possibility of an active shooter event on campus is very rare, but we have to be prepared nonetheless,” explained Matthew Byrne, Director of Security and Safety at Mount Saint Mary College. “We saw today that our communication level passed the test.”
The exercise was carried out after months of preparation, said Byrne, including reviewing college policies and procedures, and hosting active shooter preparedness training for Mount faculty and staff though a partnership with the City of Newburgh Police Department.
The officers were not briefed on the scenario beforehand and used their training and tactics to come to a resolution as quickly as possible.
“Real-life training scenarios are the best kind of training there is. That is where we learn the most,” said Dan Cameron, City of Newburgh Police Chief. “I am very pleased with the response from all of the people involved in this process.”
More than 60 people participated in the exercise, including representatives from Orange County Emergency Management, SUNY Orange, Newburgh City Enlarged School District, the New York State Office for Fire Prevention and Control, the City of Newburgh Fire Department, and Hudson Valley Boy Scouts.
The college is grateful for the aid of all who participated in this exercise, Byrne noted.
“From police to fire to EMS, to the role-players involved, to the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control, I give my heartfelt thanks for your assistance in allowing us to test ourselves and our preparedness level,” he said.
As required by law, the Mount completes an emergency preparedness exercise every year, alternating between hands-on and tabletop drills. In the past, scenarios have included hostage situations (with participation of Newburgh and Town of New Windsor police), food poisoning, and storm/severe weather situations.