Christendom College hosted a tabletop exercise testing the college’s emergency preparedness on Wednesday, February 24, in coordination with senior leadership from the Town of Front Royal and Warren County. Chief Executives from the Front Royal Police Department, Warren County Fire and Rescue Services, the Warren County Sheriff’s Office and Warren Memorial Hospital all attended the event, which successfully tested the emergency response coordination between the college and public safety and health agencies.

“We are preparing for something that we hope and pray never happens — nevertheless, if something like this should happen, we want to ensure that we are as prepared as we possibly can be,” said College President Dr. Timothy O’Donnell. “All of you, as first responders, please know that you all share our gratitude for all that you do to keep Christendom College safe and for being here today.”

The tabletop exercise was the result of years of work by the college’s Emergency Operations Team and their external crisis management consultant, who helped the college prepare extensively for the exercise on February 24. Over the course of the afternoon, the exercise helped the college and town and county personnel perform an extensive review of what resources are in place for a variety of crisis-level events, from neutralizing threats to assisting victims to effectively communicating during and after a crisis.

“This was a fantastic opportunity to discuss emergency coordination measures between the College’s leadership and our local public safety leadership,” said Warren County Fire and Rescue Emergency Coordinator Lietutenant Rick Farrall. “As a result, we are much better prepared to respond to an emergency situation at the College; let’s hope we never have to do so.”

The exercise proved to be fruitful not only for testing emergency preparedness, but also for building up relationships between the college and surrounding law enforcement, fire and rescue, and health agencies.

“We applaud the administration at Christendom College for recognizing the need to have emergency planning in place and developing the relationship with public safety partners,” said Front Royal Police Department Chief Kahle Magalis. “They have been very accommodating in providing facilities for us to train our personnel in emergency response over the past several years. Clearly, they have witnessed the complexity of emergency operations and identified key personnel within their staff to form their emergency operations team, as well as their plans to integrate into the emergency response. My hat is off to them for devoting valuable resources to this endeavor.”

Attendees for the event included: Christendom’s President Dr. Timothy O’Donnell and Executive Vice President Mark Rohlena, along with the college’s entire Emergency Operations Team; Front Royal Police Department Chief Kahle Magalis; Warren County Fire and Rescue Fire Chief James Bonzano and Emergency Coordinator Lietutenant Rick Farrall; Warren County Sheriff Mark Butler; Warren Memorial Hospital Safety and Emergency Management Manager Daniel Mulcahy and Emergency Department Clinical Manager Delores Gehr; and Golden Seal Enterprises President and CEO Frank Yurkovich, along with other members of all the above agencies.

Sheriff Butler stated that “the Sheriff’s Office applauds the Emergency Operations Team of Christendom College for taking a strong leadership role for ensuring the safety and education of its students and staff alike. In a world where the unexpected – is to be expected, it takes a concerted and enduring relationship between all agencies to sustain a steady state of preparedness for such events. By training and exercising together we learn best how to support one another, manage expectations and ensure a confident and safe response to all-hazards.”

The tabletop exercise was the latest in a series of exercises conducted on campus in conjunction with Front Royal and Warren County agencies, including mass casualty incident training that was conducted in August of 2020. All of the exercises contribute to ensuring that the college is as well prepared as possible in the event of a crisis.

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