It an atom bomb were to hit Boston tomorrow, it would find the University prepared to feed, house and bed displaced persons. If the bomb happened to strike in Cambridge, it would find the University totally unprepared to combat its effects.
Captain C. H. J. Keppler, USN (Ret.), chairman of the Civil Defense Advisory Committee at Harvard, has been working since last spring to formulate plans to "prevent or mitigate confusion and panic and to be ready for rescue and relief operations" in the event of air or atomic attack in the Harvard region.
He has, however, been faced by many difficulties. It would be impractical, he feels, to safeguard the University's many treasures by moving them underground. The books at Widener must be available for the use of students. Secondly, the University has so far been unwilling to spend large amounts of money for the training of personnel as wardens, police, or rescue workers. The training of faculty and employees is planned for the future.
Keppler is also faced with the additional problem of cooperating with the Boston and Cambridge Civil Defense officials. Harvard is responsible for its own defense program as a unit separate from the cities in which it is located. Integration with the plans of Boston and Cambridge is a great source of worry.
Two signal drills have already been held with Boston and the Business School, and Keppler says the Boston officials expressed great satisfaction with the results of the tests.
Students will not find themselves called upon to become wardens or stretcher bearers, because the student population changes too rapidly to permit adequate instruction. Medical and dental students, however, will be used in the Medical Service division, Keppler said.
Walter L. Cronin, head of the Cambridge Civil Defense organization, is finding the training problem difficult Cronin says he is "building up a solid corps of defense workers who will act as a body of corporals and a core of a large body who will volunteer if the situation worsens." At present Cronin's Civil Defense army has had a few enlistments.