FRAMINGHAM – When the waves of runners left Hopkinton for the 2019 Boston Marathon, a room full of public security officials watched their computers, monitored video screens and radios, and spoke to each other when a list of incidents appeared on a wall wall.
A runner fell and broke an arm. A drone was discovered. An unattended package was found and deleted.
On a day of marathons involving 30,000 runners and countless spectators, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency operates a "unified coordination center" in the MEMA Underground Bunker in Framingham.
The goal, according to MEMA spokesman Christopher Besse, is to bring local, state and federal public security officials together in one place to coordinate their responses to what the day brings – from the weather to terrorism.
"On a certain day, you do not know what to use," said Besse.
The Marathon 2019 was held on 15 April. For the first time, the marathon was held on the occasion of the 2013 Bomb Jubilee, which killed three people near the marathon finish line and injured nearly 300.
FBI officials said they were not aware of any particular threat to this year's marathon. But officials were prepared on Monday morning in the MEMA bunker.
In the bunker, which opened at 6 o'clock in the morning, nearly 250 people from 70 agencies worked. He should continue to operate until the last runners were concentrated in Boston, probably at 5 or 6pm.
In each room of the bunker, the marathon is televised on one screen while another screen displays the marathon route and other statistics monitored by the officers, such as the number of medical patients or incidents reported to law enforcement.
In the main room, police and firefighters from all eight communities receive officers' marathon crossbeams in the field. In this way, they can coordinate as needed when an incident occurs in one of their communities. Also present are the state police, the National Guard, the Boston Athletic Association and MEMA.
A room is used for reconnaissance and investigation, where the FBI, state police and other police officers monitor the threats and speak with local tactical teams.
On Monday morning, the team marked a truck with few markings, only to find that it was delivering cones along the route.
Another room houses rescue services, the Department of Public Health, the Red Cross and other emergency medical services. Therefore, every medical response between the various rescue services and agencies is coordinated.
A separate room accommodates support for the bomb squad, Dangerous Goods teams and other tactical teams being asked about suspicious packages, for example.
The Coordination Center has been operational for years, but was enlarged after the 2013 bombing raids. By that time, 80 to 100 people were using the Bunker on Marathon Day, compared to 250 today. The FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and other federal agencies are now represented. Planning begins six months before the race.
"There are always improvements every year," said Besse.
For example, after bad weather last year – and with rain threatening this year – every community opened an animal shelter in the morning instead of waiting for circumstances to warrant it. The organizers sent 60 additional buses to medical tents, which can be used for transportation to protect against the rain or, depending on the temperature, as a heat or cooling station.
While the bunker is in the underground and an entrance is guarded by the police, was worked in a purpose-built tent. Since the cafeteria was used to coordinate the emergency response, a catering company set up a shop to grill hamburgers and hot dogs for lunch.