Arcadia, Greater Community Benefit from Emergency Excercise

By schwartzsa | May 18, 2011

Arcadia University and the Montgomery County Bomb Unit teamed up with other local, state and federal officials to conduct a training exercise on Arcadia’s Glenside Campus on the morning of May 16. Coordinating the event was Dr. John Noakes, Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of the Criminal Justice Program, and Allen Stewart, Adjunct Professor of Criminal Justice, who also serves as the Head of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department Bomb Unit.

The Montgomery County Bomb Unit was in search of a new venue with which to test their skills. Arcadia took it as an opportunity to benefit students, faculty, and staff as well as local government and emergency officials. “We thought originally that the exercise would be conducted over the summer, but we’ve worked out a way so that students can benefit from it,” says Noakes. “At the same time, the University itself is using the exercise to test their emergency response systems.”

From the safety of classrooms in Easton Hall, Criminal Justice students observed four trained explosives dogs detect the simulated device. They had front-row seats as the bomb squad x-ray, assessed and disarmed the device. A debriefing session followed, where students reviewed each step the bomb squad performed and reasoning behind the measure with Stewart, Noakes and several local officials, including First Deputy Sheriff Alfred J. Ricci and Sheriff Eileen Behr of Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department.

“This is a great opportunity for emergency teams to get more familiar with the campus, so in the case of an actual threat, they can be more effective,” says Ricci. “During these simulations we purposefully practice for the worst-case scenario with the hopes we can find any problems with our strategy and fix them.”

Involved in the exercise were Arcadia University’s Department of Public Safety; the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department; the Cheltenham Township Police Department; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Pennsylvania State Police, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms; Cheltenham Township Fire Department/EMS; Whitemarsh Township Police Department; Montgomery County Emergency Operations Center; and Cheltenham Township Emergency Management.