FARMINGTON — After months of planning, local emergency agencies will hold a full-scale disaster drill Friday, Aug. 8, on the campus of the University of Maine at Farmington.

Some streets, including High Street from Lake Avenue to Middle Street, will be closed from approximately 9 to 11 a.m. The side streets of Lincoln, South, Maguire and Perkins are included in the closure.

Some road signs alerting the public to the drill will go up near the campus on Wednesday and more signs posted on Friday.

A couple scenarios will take place on campus, including mock mass casualties, with police, fire, ambulance and border patrol agents responding.

The exercise will include volunteers posing as the injured, numerous emergency vehicles and some loud noises. 

The specifics of the scenarios are being withheld so participants can have the opportunity to think and react as they would in a real situation, Tim Hardy, Franklin County Emergency Management director, said.

Franklin Memorial Hospital will handle mock patients and parents seeking information about them. Mental health teams will deal with victim and parental responses, he said.

Funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was received to help with two previous training exercises for this full-scale drill.

It is a “first-of-its-kind” exercise held in Maine with the university’s participation, Hardy said.

The training resulted from comments made by former police Chief Ted Blais, director of Public Safety at UMF, about security events that occurred on the campus here and at campuses around the country, Hardy said.

In April 2013, a tabletop exercise was held on the campus where emergency responders discussed reactions to a gunman there.

Among the objectives were seeing how each entity would respond to the situation, what they needed to do, how they would react, how a unified command center would be created and how information would be shared.

Last fall, an exercise was also held at the university, Hardy said. Responding agencies were placed in separate rooms and communicated with each other by radio, Farmington police Deputy Chief Shane Cote said.

This week’s full-scale version brings everything into action. Volunteers will act as victims and parents of victims. Emergency responders will spring into action and need to think and react to issues that will develop throughout the exercise, Hardy said.

“The training is about bringing people together, knowing faces and each other’s capabilities,” Hardy said. “If a real-life situation happened, bonds have already been created.”

The exercise offers an opportunity to develop relationships among key responders as they train together, Wilton police Chief Heidi Wilcox said.

Wilcox will operate the unified command center as Farmington police Chief Jack Peck would for the Wilton Department, if something happened there, she said.

“It is a test of our response and an opportunity for lessons learned from those responses,” Cote said. Communication is a key issue, he said.

Friday’s exercise will focus on methods of emergency response, notification of university students and the public, an evaluation of emergency response policies and how to mitigate hazardous conditions, according to a UMF news release.

After the exercise, everyone will gather at the Mallett School for a debriefing and lunch, Hardy said.  They will seek input from everyone involved, he said.

Those involved in the planning include the Maine Emergency Management Agency, Franklin County Emergency Management, UMF, Farmington and Wilton police departments, Franklin County Sheriff’s Department, U.S. Border Patrol, ham radio operators, Franklin Memorial Hospital, NorthStar ambulance and Franklin County Regional Communications Center. Livermore Falls and Jay police will help also.

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