EAST LANSING, MI (WLNS) – It’s Wednesday, October 17th, 2017. Holmes Hall, the largest residence hall on Michigan State University’s campus, catches fire.
The flames force hundreds of students from their dorm rooms.
One student is dead; several others are injured, causing mayhem throughout campus.
Police are investigating the incident as arson.
Dozens of people gather into a room at IM West. These are real police, real MSU students and staff, and real members of the media,
The thing is, the scenario is fake.
It’s part of a full scale crisis training exercise to test MSU’s emergency operations and family assistance center.
In less than three weeks, more than 50,000 students will return to MSU’s campus to start the school year. With a new year, comes a new training exercise to make sure the university and it’s police department are ready to tackle any emergency, while keeping students and staff safe.
“For any large complex organization like Michigan State University, it’s very important for us to exercise our emergency plans,” Kent Cassella said. He’s the Associate Vice President for Communications and Senior PR Strategist for the university.
“The goal here, with any emergency exercise, is to make sure that you’re better than you are today and that you’re prepared for anything that might happen,” Cassella said.
6 News also got an inside look at the MSU Police Operations Center during the exercise.
It’s a place where police and MSU staff works together to effectively and efficiently deal with an emergency situation.
“We do have plans that we work on year round and this is a great opportunity for us to flesh out some of that information to make sure that if there’s something that we can do better, we can do it while we’re practicing,” MSU Police Capt. Doug Monette said.
An emergency exercise like this, allows police and MSU officials to work out any kinks when it comes to actual emergency response, identify any additional training that needs to be done, and make sure they have the resources and equipment they need to save lives.
“I think it’s important that we really bring out the real life personalities, the media, REHS, CABS, the emergency management teams throughout the area to evaluate us because this is a learning opportunity,” Capt. Monette said. “This is a great way for us to improve where we are from here to make sure that we are efficient and that we are doing things in a safe manner and currently using the best practices that are out there.”