Emergency - Call Amherst College Police 

(413) 542-2111 

(Ambulance, Fire, Police, and Hazardous Conditions)

February 2017


The success of disaster response and recovery at Amherst College relies on quick and effective decision making, the efficient deployment of resources, and frequent and transparent communications. The College’s concept of operations provides an overview as to how responders and resources will coordinate to ensure a successful response to any disaster or emergency. 

Authority for Emergency Operations

The President delegates authority for operations during his/her absence from campus to the Chief Financial and Administrative Officer and the Dean of the Faculty. The Chief of Campus Operations, Director of Public Safety, Director of Environmental Health and Safety, and Director of Emergency Preparedness are delegated with the authority to activate the EOP.

Emergency Operations Center

The emergency operations center (EOC) serves as the College’s central coordination center for emergency response and recovery activities. Members of the EMT serve in the EOC, coordinating resources, manpower, and information to support on-scene operations and to run off-scene operations.

The EOC is activated when an incident requires coordination of operations and resources across campus functions. The need to activate the EOC is determined by the Director of Public Safety or his/her designee. EOC operations are detailed in the Amherst College Emergency Operations Center Manual. 

Response Coordination


There may be times when outside agencies will be required to respond to an Amherst College emergency. The contacting of local fire, EMS or police shall be done through the ACPD Dispatch Center. Should the Amherst Fire Department be requested to the campus for an incident involving explosion, fire, or mass casualties, the highest ranking officer with that department shall assume the role of Incident Commander for the Fire Department.   The Fire Department Incident Command will work in Unified Command with the Amherst College Incident Command.

The contacting of support agencies such as contractors, suppliers, etc., shall be done by the Service Desk during normal business hours. During off hours contact may be made, at the request of the Incident Commander, by the ACPD Dispatch Center. The Incident Commander may request additional Dispatch Personnel if needed. If Dispatch is unable to make the necessary calls, the Logistics Officer may make the calls at the direction of the Incident Commander.

Should local Fire, EMS or Police agencies respond, it is the responsibility of the Incident Commander to facilitate the exchange of information and provide required resources. The Amherst College Incident Commander should be prepared to collaborate on operations with Governmental Incident Commander as required by law or agreement.

The Incident Commander should assign a person to record keeping during all incidents. This person shall keep detailed, chronological records of all actions taken, supplies and equipment requested and obtained, all persons present and any deviations from this policy. Until such person arrives on scene and takes over record keeping, the records and recordings of the Amherst College Police Department shall be used. Incident Commanders should transmit all requests, orders, and important details to the Amherst College Police Dispatch Center over the recorded police radio frequency or recorded police telephone lines.

To facilitate communications, Incident Commanders must be able to converse with Police Officers and Dispatch on the Amherst College Police Frequency. Amherst College Police also keep a cellular telephone at the ACPD Office for use during an emergency. Portable radios may also be loaned from ACPD Communications in emergencies.


Amherst College operates an emergency notification system called AC Alert. AC Alert allows for emergency notifications to be sent via text message, phone call, or email. Amherst College has the capability to issue emergency messages through desktop alerts and outdoor warning ssystems. Public safety officials are responsible for issuing emergency notifications to the community that includes the following information:

  • The nature of the incident
  • The location of the incident
  • Actions to be taken

AC Alerts are only issued when immediate action must be taken as a result of an emergency or incident. Public safety personnel may issue AC Alert’s at their discretion and Policy Group members are authorized to request an AC Alert be issued.

The majority of emergencies that occur at Amherst College are Level 1 emergencies and are generally reported to the Amherst College Police Department (ACPD) dispatch via phone call. As a result, ACPD dispatch acts as the primary communications hub in the initial phase of emergencies, notifying and dispatching emergency responders to the scene.

Media Relations

Media relations shall be handled by the Chief Communications Officer or his/her designee. The Chief Communications Officer shall consult with the Incident Commander for appropriate information to release to the media. The Chief Communications Officer shall provide an area for media to congregate away from the affected area. NO media shall be allowed in an affected area without the express permission of the Incident Commander. Procedures for coordination of external communications may be found in the Crisis Communications Plan.

Information Sharing

Information Collection

The goal of information collection during incident response is to gain situational awareness. Situational awareness may be defined as the ability to identify, process, and comprehend the critical information about an incident, or essentially knowing what is going on around you. This requires continuous monitoring of relevant sources of information regarding the actual incident and any hazards that may be developing.

The Emergency Management Team (EMT) in the emergency operations center (EOC) is responsible for information collection regarding the incident scene and operations, receiving information from first responders, on-scene command, first person reports, the National Weather Services, members of the Five Colleges, the Town of Amherst, and others. The Crisis Communications Team (CCT) is responsible for collecting information from students, staff, faculty, and the general public regarding their experience and perceptions during that incident.

Essential elements of information to collect may include the impacted area, affected population, factors inhibiting incident stabilization, impact on campus operations, and the impact on protecting infrastructure and the environment.

Information Analysis and Dissemination

Information collected in the EOC and CCT is used to establish a common operating picture. A common operating picture may be defined as a standard overview of an incident that provides the information needed to make effective, consistent, coordinated, and timely decisions. This single set of relevant, usable information is shared across response organizations at all levels, continuously updated throughout the incident’s life cycle.

At Amherst College, a common operating picture is established through certain documentation prepared by the EMT and CCT, shared between themselves and the Policy Group. One such document is the situation report, developed by the Planning Section in the EOC. The situation report provides an overall picture of response efforts, including what happened in the event, who was affected, what has been accomplished, and what critical needs exist. The EMT also prepares an incident action plan (IAP), detailing staffing and operations for the EOC per operational period. The CCT shares collected information via a communications brief, summarizing rumors being spread and the general message being disseminated. Blank situation reports and IAP’s may be found in the EOC Manual and blank communications briefs may be found in the Crisis Communications Plan.


The goal of the response phase is incident stabilization, focusing on life safety, property protection, and environmental preservation. The goal of recovery is to return to normal operations as quickly as possible. Recovery is accomplished through short-term actions, such as damage assessment and the return of essential functions, and long-term actions, such as repairs and reconstruction of facilities.

As an incident is stabilized, a recovery team will be established to guide the College as it reinstitutes all functions. Amherst College is currently in the process to develop a Recovery Annex and continuity of operations plan that will provide more detail on recovery operations.