Emergency drill set for today at Progressive Field
Event was planned months ago and is not in response to Boston Marathon bombings
CLEVELAND -- Mark Shapiro was keeping an eye on the news coverage out of Boston between meetings on Friday morning at Progressive Field. What the Indians president has watched, along with the rest of the country, has reinforced his desire to ensure Cleveland fans that they are safe at the ballpark.
That promise to Indians fans is one of the driving forces behind the full-scale emergency excercise planned for Tuesday at Progressive Field. Shapiro stressed that the coming event is not a reaction to the terrorist events in Boston that have embroiled the nation.
"The timing is coincidental," Shapiro said. "But probably, if anything, it emphasizes the importance of us being prepared at all times. We've always stressed a commitment to providing a safe environment for our fans. This is a continued extension of that effort."
The Indians issued a press release Friday to inform the public that the event is only a drill. The City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County and various emergency response agencies have been planning the exercise for approximately six months, and the press release was issued to warn the community that there will be no interruptions of safety services.
The Indians have participated in this event once before at Progressive Field.
The various emergency agencies used the venue to rehearse in 2001, and the city of Cleveland conducted a similar exercise last year at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and the Port of Cleveland. The drills receive new relevance in the wake of the events in Boston, which began with a bombing at the Boston Marathon and continued with an unprecedented manhunt through the streets of the city.
Shapiro said there would have been advance notice under normal circumstances, too.
"It's important to understand that it's not a reaction," Shapiro said. "This is something six months in the planning. We've all attended meetings leading up to it. The only decisions -- in light of the events -- were: Do we postpone to assure people it's not a reaction? Do we alter the event with learning from the way things have been handled in Boston?"
Shapiro said there were no changes made to the exercise following the events in Boston.
Bob DiBiasio, Cleveland's senior vice president of public affairs, issued a statement about Tuesday's drill.
"The Department of Homeland Security recommends preparation as the No. 1 priority in dealing with emergency situations," DiBiasio said in a statement. "While our safety and security policies and procedures always have maintained the highest standards, we know it is very important to be well-prepared in the event of any major emergency situation.
"The safety of our fans, players and staff at Progressive Field always has been, and will continue to be, our highest priority."
Tuesday's exercise will begin around 10:30 a.m. ET inside Progressive Field, and a press briefing will occur inside the Terrace Club about five hours later. No media will be granted access inside the venue while the exercise is conducted.
Emergency response vehicles, equipment and apparatus will be staged on Eagle Avenue and East Ninth Street, and the Indians want to caution the public that the exercise may mimic the real-life sights and sounds of a disaster. Also, one southbound lane of East Ninth Street will close from approximately 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
Participating agencies include Cleveland Divisions of Police, Fire and EMS; Cleveland and Cuyahoga County Offices of Emergency Management; Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's and Sheriff's Offices; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Northeast Ohio Regional Fusion Center; Region 2 Urban Search and Rescue; SWAT and more.
"The city has a lot of experience doing these," Shapiro said. "They've done one at the airport and a couple other spots. We will stage an event that simulates an emergency, and then test our emergency preparedness, as well as our coordination with the various city entities that we'd need to be involved with if something were to happen."
Shapiro is not entirely sure what kind of simulation is going to take place.
"We will be simulating a game day," he said. "But to be honest, beyond that, since I'm involved in the exercise, they haven't told me much else."