YSU conducts emergency response drill

:: It’s the Monday morning after spring break. Classes are back in session. Faculty and staff are in their offices. The parking lots are filling. Students are all about.

At about 8:30 a.m., a custodian finds a written note taped to the wall of the men’s restroom in Ward Beecher Hall. The note says a bomb will detonate in the building at 10 a.m. causing mass damage. ::

That was the scenario presented to a group of more than a dozen police, fire and YSU officials who participated in an exercise earlier this month to talk through the steps that would be taken in the event of such a campus emergency.

“There are no right or wrong answers,” YSU Police Lt. Mike Cretella told the group before the exercise. “We are here to discuss what we would do and how we would respond. We are here to learn.”

The exercise, facilitated by retired Youngstown police Lt. Robin Lees, included participants from Youngstown fire and police departments, the YPD Bomb Squad, the YPD Tactical Response Team, the Youngstown-Mahoning Country Crisis Response Team, Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office and the Mahoning County Emergency Management Agency. Participating from YSU were the campus police and representatives from facilities, communications, environmental and occupational health and safety and the president’s office.

Participants discussed how police and fire personnel would respond to the threat, if/how/when the threat would be communicated to the campus, if/how/when the building may be evacuated, traffic control in the event of an evacuation, etc.

Dennis O’Hara of the Mahoning County EMA gave the exercise a thumbs up. “It gives you the chance to go through and discuss things that you might not normally even think about,” he said.

Cretella said he plans similar exercises in the near future.

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