This document describes a general plan for responding to a large-scale emergency or crisis at Whitman College.
This plan is designed to coordinate College and community resources to protect life and property following an emergency on the Whitman College campus, to provide for the physical and emotional well-being of community members, and return the College to normal functioning as soon as possible.
B. Conditions and hazards that might threaten the College
It is impossible to predict each and every incident which might constitute a community crisis. The severity and extent of the crisis will determine the level of response. Major disasters require a significant, immediate life-safety response, followed by on-going College-wide coordination. Other incidents would require a coordinated response with a less extensive life-safety component.
- Prior planning is key to effective emergency preparedness and response.
- Training of College personnel in emergency response protocols is essential.
- Rapid response by campus personnel will help alleviate the effects of a community-affecting crisis.
- Emergencies can occur at any time or place on campus, so each member of the campus community – faculty, staff, administrators and students – may be called upon to help as appropriate.
II. Concepts and Procedures
A. Levels of Emergency
Level 1 Emergencies can be handled through normal operating channels. These might include minor chemical spills, most deaths/suicides, low-level acts of violence, sewer stoppages, power outages, weather-related situations, and false alarms. Level 1 emergencies may not require the initiation of the Emergency Management Plan.
Level 2 Emergencies require a coordinated response beyond that of normal operating channels, but do not include significant damage to College facilities. These situations are likely to traumatize a significant number of community members (for example, some deaths, violence, or major demonstrations). Level 2 emergencies may require initiation of the Emergency Management Plan to ensure coordinated communication and decision making.
Level 3 Emergencies require a coordinated response beyond that of normal operating channels and include significant damage to College facilities. These situations may include emergencies such as floods, earthquakes, major chemical incidents and major fires. Level 3 emergencies always require initiation of this plan.
B. Priorities for providing response
- Life safety, student and employee welfare
- Preservation of property
- Restoration of the residential living program
- Restoration of the academic program
Any member of the Whitman College community should feel empowered to initiate emergency response by calling Emergency Dispatch at 911. The Director of Security has responsibility for ensuring that local emergency-response entities have been contacted.
C. Direction and Control
The Emergency Response Plan is under the executive direction of the President, who will determine whether the plan is to be activated and oversee implementation of the plan. In the absence of the President, the Treasurer will assume this role, followed in order by the Dean of Faculty, Dean of Students, the Dean of Admission, and the Chief Information Officer.
When appropriate, the President will make an official declaration of emergency, including the nature of the emergency, names of individuals in designated roles, and other changes in decision making structure, authority and process.
Two groups have responsibility for various aspects of emergency management. The Emergency Operations Group (EOG) is responsible for immediate, short-term emergency management functions. The Emergency Policy Group (EPG) is charged with broad oversight of the EOG, as well as with middle-range and long-term policy-making and planning.
The Emergency Policy Group
The President or his designee will decide if the EPG should convene, and which members are appropriate to form the EPG in any particular incident. The Primary responsibilities of the Emergency Policy Group are to:
- Facilitate acquisition of resources from outside college.
- Establish communications with College Trustees and Overseers.
- Create short and long-term plan for student housing and food service.
- Create short-term building replacement program.
- Coordinate records survey.
- Resolve financial and legal problems.
- Assess staffing resources
- Initiate survey of academic programs.
- Establish dates for resumption of academic schedule.
The Emergency Operations Group
The Incident Commander will have immediate direction of the Emergency Operations Group. The members of the unit and their responsibilities follow:
Incident Commander (IC):
Oversees incident response. Direct line of command includes: Operations, Information, Medical and Outside Resources Liaison. Determines location for Incident Command Post and staging areas.
Assumes recordkeeping duties for IC
Establishes Casualty Collection Points (CCP) – appoint CCP managers.
Operations Director (OD):
Oversees emergency operations groups including: Security, Logistics/Resources and Facilities.
Assumes recordkeeping duties for OD.
- Act as first responders
- Assist with rescue operations
- Secure scene
- Secure facilities
- Secure perimeter
- Monitor equipment/resources/supplies
- Supply equipment and resources as needed
- Facilitate acquisition of resources from outside college
- Coordinate resources with Volunteer coordinator and Staging Area Manager(s)
Surveys volunteers to determine skills; provides information on volunteer resources to Logistics
Staging Area Manager
Oversees coordination of Staging Area and distribution of resources as directed by IC through Logistics
Supplies volunteers and staff with equipment as directed by Logistics and Staging Area manager
- Assist with rescue operations
- Secure utilities: gas, water, electric
- Construct temporary shelters if needed
- Provide sanitation (port-a-potty, garbage containers)
- Repair/restore utilities/facilities
Provides all official information to the public and campus.
Human Resources – Residence Life
1. Accounts for staff/students
2. Provides records
1. Maintains College server
2. Creates internet information site
Outside Resources Liaison:
Interfaces with EOC, Red Cross, WWFD, WWPD, City utilities and other outside agencies
D. Establish and maintain communications.
Security is likely to be the first office to be aware of the emergency.
Security should initiate the telephone tree to alert members to the situation.
Other staff or faculty members may then be called, depending upon the nature of the situation (for example, residence hall personnel).
General communication channels will be as diagramed below. The general intent of this procedure is to facilitate the necessary flow of information, while taking some of the communication burden off staff members who are busy with other, immediate tasks.
For example, the Office of Communications will make an effort to contact staff in the human resources, and student services, for the purpose of gathering information, and will relay this information to the Incident Commander. However (for example), if the Director of Residence Life has an immediate need from the Incident Commander, he or she should feel free to contact the IC directly.
A regional disaster (such as a severe earthquake) will most likely disrupt cell phone service first, followed by regular long-distance telephone service, and finally regular local telephone service. Email may be of some use in contacting people outside the area, but it would probably be of little use for rapid on-campus communication.
Physical Plant and Security have a total of 22 radios, operating on a single dedicated frequency. During off-hours, Physical Plant's radios are stored in various offices and work spaces around the Physical Plant facility. Security's radios are usually moving around campus with escorts. The Student Health Center has two radios, the Safety Coordinator has one, and there are two radios in the Treasurer's office. The Health Center, Safety and Treasurer's radios operate on the same channels as both the Physical Plant and Security radios. The Incident Commander will reassign radios for use by personnel as needed.
All college radios operate on a single frequency, allowing anyone within earshot of a radio to hear everything that is said by anyone using a radio or with a police scanner. For that reason (and for efficient response to the emergency), it is vital that all individuals using radios exercise discretion (in order to avoid spreading rumors and panic), speak in a businesslike fashion, and avoid clogging the frequency with unnecessary communications.
An Office of Communications staff member will collect as many cell phones as necessary and deliver them to individuals who don't have one but should. This Communications staff member will deliver a corrected list of phones and numbers to the head of Communications.
Maintain communication with outside responders and emergency agencies. Gather all available information. The Incident Commander will assign someone who will respond to the County Emergency Center located at 2nd and Rose Streets and who will act as a liaison with all outside agencies.
The Physical Plant Director, Security Director, Chief Communications Officer, Health Center, and Dean of Students should have fully-charged emergency-frequency radios in their offices. For those without emergency-frequency radios, KONA 610 AM and 105.3 FM will broadcast emergency information in a large-scale disaster.
Communication with other internal constituencies, including students, faculty and staff. Accurate information and instructions should be passed along to affected groups of people in an expeditious manner, in order to help maintain order and to help deliver assistance to those who need it. In consultation with the Incident Commander, Dean of Students, and Dean of Faculty, the Chief Communications Officer or Public Information Officer will be responsible for passing on vital information to students and other groups, either directly or through such offices as Residence Life.
In an emergency situation, rumors fly everywhere. Do not believe anything you hear until you know it for certain. Do not spread information you don't know for certain. Email is particularly liable to be used to spread unfounded rumors. Do not contribute to misinformation and potential panic.
Communication with outside concerned parties, including parents of affected students. As information about a disaster goes out through the media and through the "rumor mill," parents of students will be concerned. It is important to provide accurate information to parents in a timely manner. The Dean of Students, with assistance from the Chief Communications Officer, has primary responsibility for communicating with parents of affected students.
If parents call various offices at the college (5777, 5111, etc.), these calls should be forwarded to the Dean of Students' (ext. 5158). If there is no answer at the Dean of Students' Office, these calls should be forwarded to Communications (ext. 5169). If there is no answer at either office, take down a name and phone number; make sure someone returns these calls in a timely manner.
In the event of an emergency information will be updated regularly on the College home page. If the emergency involved the loss of our servers WCTS has arranged an off-site host for our home page.
Communication with the media. In order to avoid misinformation from being reported and to maintain the credibility of the College, it is essential that the college "speak with a single voice." The Chief of Communications and the President should be the primary source of information for the media.
However, it is important that media have the sense that the college is receptive to their inquires. If staff members are absolutely positive that they have accurate answers to direct factual questions, they should provide those answers.
Staff members should not express personal opinions to members of the media.
For any questions beyond a simple statement of fact, staff members should refer media to the Office of Communications.
The Chief of Communications or a designee is the only staff member who should proactively contact the media.
In a major disaster, it is likely that large numbers of reports and broadcast crews will arrive on campus. They should be directed to the Chief of Communications, who will establish a media center.
In a disaster or event of sufficient news interest, it may be necessary for the Chief of Communications and Security to coordinate credentialing of press and to establish guidelines for press activity on campus (e.g.: no press allowed in the library, dining halls, or residence halls). The Communications Office should have on-hand a supply of badges or imprinted nametags for distribution to accredited media.
Debriefing. Within a reasonable amount of time after a major emergency, the President (or his designee) should bring together staff participants to discuss the effectiveness of the College's response to the emergency and to make recommendations for improving future response.