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Civil Defense Will Call All Students For Duty

By Philip M. Cronin

All students will be asked to volunteer as air raid wardens in the near future, Cambridge's Civilian Defense Chief Walter L. Cronin said yesterday. After discussing his plans with vice-president Reynolds, Cronin said that they both agreed that the University's civil defense set-up will be identical with the city's. Cronin will appoint a faculty member as deputy civilian defense chief in charge of the University area.

Provost Duck reported that the University will work with Cronin when the time comes.

According to Cronin, there will be student wardens in the fire, police, medical, and rescue departments assigned to each hall and House. These who are not assigned as wardens, he said, will be part of a manpower pool. In case of attack, the civilian defense agency will call soon this student pool to help clear streets and do rescue work.

Cronin expects to discuss questions of mob psychology with faculty members. He also plans to consult professors on architectural and other technical subjects.

The architectural information will be necessary, he said, when he builds his control center. Cronin wants to know how to construct a building which will withstand the effects of an atomic bomb. The exterior of the building will cost the city $150,000, he expects; the inside will probably cost double that figure.

Program Delayed

When this building is completed, Cronin will start his civilian defense program on a large scale. The two main reasons for the delay now, he stated, are general lassitude on the part of the federal government and a necessary revamping of the outmoded World War II Defense system.

The key personnel in the College set up will be the paid University employees. They will be in charge of the student wardens. According to Cronin, if an atomic bomb landed within 25 miles, a professor or a University employee would lead a small band of student wardens there to assist in rescue work.

Cronin first became familiar with disaster work during the hurricane of 1938 which caused wide-spread damage to the New England coast. At the time, he headed a disaster relief committee which worked to restore communications and transportation.

Hurricane Lesson

He said he first realized the urgency of disaster problems, when immediately after the storm, many trees blocked main arteries and hindered progress of fire and police apparatus.

Rescue workers, Cronin noted, feverishly went to work hacking away at the trees with axes and tiny saws; no one bothered to get a power say. This ill preparedness, he said, taught him to organize early and to have all equipment ready long before the trouble.

During World War II, Cronin was direction of Civilian Defense but, despite elaborate preparations, not a bomber came in sight. In October 1948, City Manager John B. Atkinson asked him to reactivate a skeleton force of 150 key men from World War II.

Cronin set up a staff much greater than this figure so that if a bomb had dropped on Greater Boston in 1948 or 1949, he would have been able to got 600 wardens on the street.

Pin-Point Bombing

When the Korean war began, Cronin was ordered to start Civilian Defense on a war scale. But this involved changing the whole concept because, Cronin said, "In world War II we expected pin-point bombing, but now with atomic bombs, guided missiles, and bacterial warfare, we must organize a large-scale group read to cope with anything.

"Now I can handle an ordinary disaster like the Coconut Grove fire, which killed 500 people, by command coring every telephone in the block, but today when a single bomb will knock out the communication facilities of an entire city, I need plenty of workers to clear the debris, for rescue work, and to run messages. Here, Harvard students should contribute most."

More Test

More civilian defense tests should be expected in the near future, Cronin said. The last one was in April when Cronin called out fire, police, medical, and rescue personnel for an imaginary explosion just north of Harvard Square. Within two minutes more than 20 fire engines, squad cars, ambulances, and garbage trucks had gathered at the scene.

A number of other Massachusetts towns have begun to plan about what to do in case, of war. But in the light of present developments in Korea, no one is certain whether much money will be appropriated to put these plans into effect.

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