FRAMINGHAM, Mass. (WWLP)- Nearly one million spectators and 32,000 runners will be on the Boston Marathon route this year, and that means security is a top priority.
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency or MEMA is the state agency charged with ensuring the state is prepared to withstand, respond to, and recover from all types of emergencies and disasters- including natural hazards, accidents, deliberate attacks, and technological and infrastructure failures.
Monday morning, 22News got a tour of the underground bunker in Framingham where the police and National Guard are working together, scanning the skies with the state police helicopter, and searching social media for any suspicious activity related to the marathon. They have been planning today’s security measures since last September.
In the bunker were intelligence operations, medical response teams, and a large room for surveillance. That included tracking live video from the state police helicopter that could zoom in on people’s faces from hundreds of feet away.
22News asked MEMA Spokesman Peter Judge how this is different from before the Boston Marathon bombing three years ago.
“Up until three years ago, we used to probably have 80 folks in the room, which is still a significant number, and our main focus was probably dealing with the public health side because regardless, there’s going to be some 1,000 people that are going to need some sort of medical assistance,” Judge said.
It is not just Boston area agencies that are helping out with the Marathon, Western Massachusetts is represented as well. The Greenfield Fire Department was helping with coordinate fire assistance, should there be a larges-scale disaster. The Red Cross of Western Massachusetts is also inside the Framingham bunker.
Around 220 people from more than 50 local, regional, state and federal public safety agencies, non-profit organizations, and private sector companies are reporting to the headquarters Monday. This includes a Law Enforcement Tactical Operations Unit (SWAT, Special Emergency Response Teams); Intelligence & Investigations Unit; EOD (Explosive Ordinance Detection) and CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological & nuclear) Unit; EMS Coordination Unit; Community Support Unit; and a Joint Information Center.
Thousands of police officers lined the route, but asked for the public’s help as well: If they saw something suspicious, to say something.
On the public health side, MEMA did decided to place misters in three of the 8 towns on the route. It is a warm day, and they’re making sure it’s not dangerously warm for runners.
The goal: for the athletes and spectators to enjoy themselves as they had for nearly all of the 120 runnings of the Boston Marathon.