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If you hear gun fire and see a lot of emergency responders on Saturday at UMASS, don't panic it's a training exercise

On Saturday, the area will host Urban Shield: Boston, a 24-hour training exercise that simulates large-scale public safety incidents in the metro-Boston area.  Urban Shield: Boston will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday and conclude at 8 a.m. Sunday. It will include personnel from the City of Boston, (including Boston Police, Fire, and EMS) Metro-Boston Homeland Security Region, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals and UMass Boston, and the United States Coast Guard.  This exercise will assess each team’s ability to successfully respond to, and manage, public safety events and other emergencies occurring simultaneously throughout the Boston area.

Urban Shield: Boston will run for a 24-hour period.  As a result residents in the area may hear simulated gunfire, observe officers responding to simulated emergencies, or see activity in the Boston Harbor.  Each scenario will be run multiple times, and organizers urge residents not to be alarmed. There is no danger to anyone in the area, and exercises will be done in cordoned-off areas away from the public.

“Training is vital for our first responders. They are on the frontlines when an emergency occurs, and we want them trained in the best ways possible to handle any situation,” Mayor Thomas M. Menino said.  “Urban Shield: Boston displays the steps the metro-Boston region takes to prepare for all-hazards and sets a national example for cities around the country to create a coordinated full-scale training exercise.”

The following locations will host exercises:

·         USS Salem (Quincy) for “maritime interdiction”

·         The former B-2 Police Station (Boston) for simulated SWAT exercises (Fenced-off area of station grounds only)

·         The former Circle Cinemas (Brookline) for a simulated bank robbery and hostage situation

·         Bowdoin MBTA Station (Boston) for a simulated HazMat incident

·         Boston Harbor Anchorage #1 (Boston) for simulated maritime operations and a ferry boat HazMat scenario

·         UMass Boston Campus (Boston) for a culminating exercise involving all agencies and a variety of exercises.

·         Eight hospitals throughout Boston for simulation of HazMat decontaminations, management of simulated victims, and activation of a Medical Intelligence Center. 

Various agencies will be involved, including UASI Boston Communities including Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Somerville, Winthrop, Revere, Quincy, Everett, and Chelsea and Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) units from:

  • the Boston Police Department;
  • the Brookline Police Department;
  • the Cambridge Police Department;
  • the Revere Police Department;
  • the Northeastern Metropolitan Law Enforcement Council (NEMLEC);
  • the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Association (MBTA) Police Department;
  • the Massachusetts State Police;
  • the Middlesex County Police Department;
  • the Metropolitan Law Enforcement Council;
  • the Manchester, NH Police Department 

Urban Shield: Boston is grant-funded through the Urban Area Security Initiative, a program of the Department of Homeland Security.  The event is a multi-layered training exercise designed to enhance the skills and abilities of regional first responders during large-scale emergencies. 

The exercise also tests the command structure of the Unified Area Command (UAC), a collaborative of high ranking personnel from each public safety agency throughout the metro region and is supported by $2 million worth of communications equipment that allows for seamless interoperability and coordination during a large scale crisis. Through the UAC, officials will review current policies and capabilities, regarding equipment, communication systems, and emergency operation centers.

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