Operation Bases Loaded

With simulated guns drawn, University of Miami Police officers engage in rescue task force exercise during "Operation Bases Loaded."

By UM News

With simulated guns drawn, University of Miami Police officers engage in rescue task force exercise during "Operation Bases Loaded."

Operation Bases Loaded

By UM News
The full-scale exercise was designed to help first responders, law enforcement and emergency managers better prepare for emergencies.

The pre-dawn fog lifted to reveal sunny, clear skies. Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field opened its gates and security checkpoint as it would any other Sunday, with the Miami Hurricanes baseball team set to wrap up a weekend series. 

Except this wasn’t a home game—but a drill. Nearly 100 volunteers and 50 responders turned out on Sunday, March 18, to participate in “Operation Bases Loaded,” a full-scale emergency response training exercise. Organized by the University of Miami Office of Emergency Management, UM Police Department (UMPD), City of Coral Gables Fire and Police Departments and various other University departments, including Athletics, Facilities Management and Parking and Transportation, “Operation Bases Loaded” was planned over the course of five months to allow first responders and University leadership to evaluate their capabilities to respond to a mass-casualty shooting on campus.

“The exercise was developed to provide a unique and high-intensity training environment for responders. Interagency coordination is so critical during large-scale incidents and everyone who planned and participated in the exercise worked incredibly well together,” said Matthew Shpiner, UM’s director of emergency management.

Volunteers who played the role of victims were instructed to either run from the baseball stadium or act as if they had been injured during the shooting. Moulage artists from UM’s Gordon Center for Research in Medical Education applied special-effects makeup on volunteers to simulate wounds and injuries.

“The great benefit of this exercise is that we practiced the things we would have to do after the shooting has stopped, and it tested how well we coordinated the police efforts with those of the rescue and emergency medical help folks,” said UMPD Chief David Rivero. “I thought the use of the unified command (where the leaders of UM, UMPD, CGPD and CGFD all work together in one location) structure worked well and made for quick decisions and information sharing. This was an excellent training opportunity for all involved.”

Members of UM’s ’Canes Emergency Response Team were also on hand to practice how they would deploy during such a crisis and how they would support first responders by assisting in triage and first aid.

 

“I’m very grateful to our first responders, volunteers, and our UM leaders for conducting this exercise. Practices such as these provide valuable opportunities to evaluate where our emergency plans are strong and where we may need adjustments,” said Jacqueline A. Travisano, executive vice president for business and finance and chief operating officer.

The exercise did not end after the last “victim” was treated and transported for additional care. On Monday, March 19, the Office of Emergency Management continued into day two of the exercise by simulating the activation of the University Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

“Unfortunately, the consequences of major emergencies go far beyond what happens at the actual scene. From the EOC we coordinate information and resources that support the on-scene response and help the University recover from the incident,” said Shpiner.

Sixteen University departments and local agencies participated in the EOC exercise and were challenged with complex issues that included supporting survivors, providing critical information to the University community and coordinating between the University and outside agencies.

“Having the opportunity to work through these types of real-world situations in an exercise setting is invaluable to our UM and Coral Gables communities,” said Jessica Brumley, vice president for facilities operations and planning. “I’m thankful to work alongside such a competent team of first responders.”