Environmental Health & Safety

General Policy

Emergency - Call Amherst College Police 

(413) 542-2111 

(Ambulance, Fire, Haz-Mat, Police)

August 2014




Depending upon the magnitude of the emergency, the Incident Commander for Amherst College or the Town of Amherst is responsible for the series of actions taken during an emergency. These actions shall generally reflect the steps specified in the appropriate Emergency Plan, modified appropriately for the circumstances. Specific Emergency Flow Charts can be found at the Amherst College Police Department. All personnel involved in type specific emergency management shall be trained in and familiar with the following applicable policies and procedures.

Emergency Operations Center

The Services Building at Amherst College is the primary Emergency Operation Center (EOC). The Service Building contains the Dispatch Center of the Amherst College Police, the Service Center of Facilities, sufficient conference space, numerous resources such as maps, diagrams, directories, and technical data. In addition, the Services Building has an emergency power supply for communications and lighting.

In the event of an emergency, both the Amherst College Police Dispatch Center and the Service Desk must be kept operational. The ACPD and Facilities radio repeaters are located in Johnson Chapel and are be powered by a single emergency electrical source. A generator is in place for this purpose.

Should the Services Building be negatively affected, the EOC should be moved to an alternative site: Porter Lounge, Converse Hall.

Succession of Authority

The Succession of Authority is addressed in the specific incident flow chart, which is located in the Amherst College Police Department. Incident Commanders should be aware of the fact that many outside resources: local fire, police, state police, EMS, etc., will gravitate to the uniformed Police Officer on scene. It shall be the responsibility of that officer to act as a liaison with these agencies and encourage direct communication with the Incident Commander. The Incident Commander shall wear a vest with the legend "Amherst College Incident Commander" so as to identify him/her to internal and external agencies and departments.

Site Security

The overall security of an incident scene shall be the responsibility of the Amherst College Police Department. Police Officers have the authority to evacuate a building based on threat to life safety. Police Officers, or Incident Commanders, also have the authority to deny access to facilities should there be evidence of a crime that may be disturbed.

Incident Commanders may require additional police officers to secure a scene when necessary. Incident Commanders also have the authority to evacuate incident scenes. The Incident Commander may deny access should he/she be aware of life safety issues that may be present.

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, regardless of the identity of the current Emergency Coordinator for the College.

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 turn control of operations over to the Governmental Incident Commander as required by law or agreement in some situations.

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.

Community Warning and Communication

Whenever possible, prior notification of emergencies or disasters that may affect the college community should be made on any or all of the following avenues:

  1. Mass Notification / AC Alert System
  2. Email bulletin to all College Email Addresses
  3. Broadcast message to all College Voice Mail Boxes
  4. Radio announcements on WAMH and/or WHMP
  5. Site specific postings in buildings
  6. Notification to Contractors by the Facilities Liaison

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.

Counseling and Support

Emergencies can impact emotional and spiritual needs for both those affected by an incident and those responding to the event. For those reasons, the Amherst College Director of the Counseling Center and the Coordinator of Religious Life are a part of the College’s Emergency Management Team. Counseling and Spiritual services will be evaluated and established by these titles. Sufficient space and the necessary resources will be made available in close proximity to the incident.

It shall be the responsibility of the Amherst College Incident Commander, Emergency Director or the appointed logistics officer in the Command Staff to initiate the response of this resource through the Amherst College  Dispatch Center.

Emergency Communications

Primary emergency communications shall take place on the Amherst College Police frequency. Once Incident Command has been established, the Incident Commander should maintain communications on both the ACPD and Facilities frequencies. The Incident Commander must have a scanning radio capable of monitoring both frequencies. Not all communications should take place on either frequency. Those communications having to do with life safety, site security, or criminal activity should take place on the Amherst College Police frequency. Should the Service Desk not be staffed and a telephone not be available, the Incident Commander may make requests for resources over the Amherst College Police frequency.

The following methods of communication must be available in the Emergency Operations Center, and in the alternative site:

  1. Telephone
  2. Two way radio
  3. FAX machine
  4. computer networking


Anyone may activate an emergency evacuation of a facility. The decision to evacuate the College will be made by the Emergency Director or his/her designee. Life safety is a priority when engaging the evacuation process.

Evacuation procedures will mirror current fire alarm procedures, including assembly of staff in an area where all may be accounted for. The sole exception to this is case of a bomb threat or discovery of a bomb, where fire alarm pull stations should not be activated. In many cases, the evacuation of a building may be accomplished by activation of the Fire Alarm System. Supervisors must account for members of their staff in a common assembly area once an evacuation is initiated.

All means of egress, and components thereof, shall be checked regularly by Amherst College Police and Facilities. All means of egress shall be kept clear, accessible and functional.


Several facilities on campus have been identified as emergency shelters. Depending on the geographic area and the type of the incident, persons may be relocated to one of the following as determined by the Amherst College Incident Commander:

  1. Valentine Hall
  2. The Cage at Alumni Gym
  3. Moore Dorm
  4. Morrow Dorm
  5. Pratt Dorm

Staging Areas for Resources

The following areas have been identified as possible staging areas for emergency vehicles, contractor vehicles, earth moving equipment, waste management equipment, etc. The area used will be dependent upon the emergency and it is possible that both may be used, one for emergency vehicles and one for service vehicles. These areas were chosen as being accessible to the majority of the campus without crossing municipal roadways and being out of the general flow of traffic.

  1. The Quadrangle Roadway from South Pleasant Street to the Freshman Quadrangle
  2. South Amherst College Drive, which is the roadway parallel to the Tennis Courts between East Drive and the Gym.

Staging will be prioritized by the Amherst Fire Department Staging Officer, if he/she is on scene. Otherwise, staging priorities shall be assigned by the College Incident Commander or Emergency Director.

Terminating an Incident

An incident will be considered terminated upon the determination of the Emergency Director or Incident Commander that no state of emergency still exists and that normal operations may resume, excepting buildings that may remain closed for extended periods for repair or overhaul.

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