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UT Public Safety partnered with FEMA last week to facilitate a full-scale exercise to test campus plans for working with local response partners in the event of a serious emergency on campus or the surrounding area.

The mock scenario involved an active shooter in the Humanities and Social Sciences Building. First responders participated in the exercise and volunteers in realistic make-up portrayed victims.

“The UT Police Department practices tactical responses annually. This was an opportunity to consider the full scale of how this affects the university and how everyone would be able to participate,” said Troy Lane, associate vice chancellor for public safety and chief of the UT Police Department.

The exercise began the morning of May 15 as law enforcement, fire, and EMS “responded” at the Humanities and Social Sciences Building to address the shooter, help with casualties, and manage the scene. The next day, the UT Emergency Operations Center simulated managing the impacts on the campus community and operations in the hours and days following the attack, including communications with the university community and outside entities. The third day involved campus leadership working to evaluate preparedness strategies and policies during a real-life emergency situation.

“Running three related exercises on consecutive days was a very ambitious undertaking. The participation and commitment demonstrated by the university and our federal, state, and local partners made all the effort worth it.  I have no doubt it has and will continue to improve campus preparedness.” said Brian Gard, director of Emergency Management.

Now campus leaders will study the feedback of evaluators and participants to improve the university’s emergency plans.

This is the second full-scale exercise UT has practiced in the past three years. The last one was a drill for a large-scale natural disaster in which a tornado hit campus and ripped apart Neyland Stadium. In April 2015, first responders from 11 agencies participated in the drill. More than 100 nursing students portrayed victims, complete with theatrical makeup that gave them realistic-looking gashes and bruises.

CONTACT: Lola Alapo (, 865-974-3993)