BOSTON — With less than a week to go before runners hit the pavement for the Boston Marathon, emergency management officials are wrapping up security protocols and preparations.
Miles away from the finish line, in an underground bunker, hundreds of local, state and federal first responders have been preparing for marathon day for months.
The Unified Coordination Center at MEMA headquarters in Framingham, the hub of security for the marathon, hosted a large-scale functional exercise on Tuesday where they went over safety operations ahead of the race.
"We play the 'what if' all the time - anything that happens in Europe or anywhere else in the world is our backstep and it can happen here," said Patrick McMurray, the undersecretary for public safety.
The event hosted 250 liaisons from 70 local, state and federal agencies, private non-profit organizations and private sector companies, where they replicated race-day operations.
The exercise tested the operational, coordination, communications and decision-making capabilities of the agencies involved in the event.
Every person in that room was logged into a program which generated up to 100 different kinds of emergency scenarios, anywhere from a gunman to reports of a fire. The hypothetical threats can change depending on the news cycle.
"We weren't focused really five years ago on car ramming attacks - we are now after events around the country this year, we think about active shooters in a number of different ways than we used to," said Kevin Schwartz, a MEMA official.
In the eight cities and towns along the marathon route, a similar scenario is being played out, where officials tested everything, from drone feeds to communications channels.
"By the time we get to next Monday, every person in this building will know their role and responsibilities and how to respond not just on a good day, but perhaps on a challenging day," said Schwartz.
While they can prepare for numerous scenarios, the one thing they can't know for sure until next week is how the weather could affect the 30,000 runners.
"We could just be dealing with a power line coming down across the course and all of a sudden having to detour runners," said Kurt.
Regardless of the possibilities, safety officials said they're doing their best to run through any possible scenario. They said they'll be ready by next Monday.
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