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Disaster preparedness a top priority for SU’s Logistics Committee
Disaster preparedness a top priority for SU’s Logistics CommitteeMarch 12, 2004Edward Byrnesedbyrnes@syr.edu
Immediately following Sept. 11, 2001, many Americans feared that their sense of security had been shattered. But in response to the events of that day, institutions across the country have implemented measures to increase security, solidify trust and ensure continued freedom and success. One such institution is Syracuse University, which acted immediately to create its Logistics Committee.
“What we wanted to do was ensure the safety of SU students, faculty, staff, property and business continuation in the event of a large-scale emergency situation,” says Louis G. Marcoccia, senior vice president of business, finance and administrative services and chairman of the committee. “We pulled a group together from all of the departments that would be involved, from Public Safety to Hendricks Chapel, because we felt this diverse group would be able to respond to almost anything that might come up.”
The committee, now comprised of 23 individuals from 21 different departments across the campus, began to meet regularly to learn about each other’s responses to situations and to develop protocols.
“We talked about what might be all the kinds of things that we may have to respond to, and we didn’t limit ourselves to terrorist types of acts. We wanted to put together a program that can be responsive no matter what the emergency is,” says Marcoccia.
But committee members weren’t content with simply identifying potential situations and how they would respond. They chose an undisclosed location for a command and control center to be used in the event of an emergency. They compiled lists of inventories on campus for everything from toilet paper and bottled water to portable generators, as well as lists of everyone who might be need to be evacuated from a particular building at a particular time of day. They revised evacuation plans. They created or enhanced relationships and developed protocols with local fire departments, emergency medical response teams, hospitals, public transit and county officials, including the Onondaga County Disaster Preparedness Committee and the University’s Critical Incident Management Team. They identified locations on campus that could serve as temporary housing areas, and met with the Red Cross to learn about the procedures for setting up temporary shelters and feeding and housing thousands of potentially displaced members of the campus community. They prioritized buildings, assessed vulnerability, and ensured communications redundancies – and continue to improve upon contingency and response plans.
“The committee’s goal was to look at emergency situations from a holistic and detailed perspective, assessing all campus operations, and incorporating preparedness, response and recovery emergency management principles into our plans,” says David Pajak, SU’s director of risk management. “For instance, the University’s library disaster plan for recovering books that may be damaged by water from the sprinkler system involves utilizing a contractor to come in and freeze-dry books. It is different from, but no less important than, the Carrier Dome’s emergency plan when hosting the NCAA men’s basketball regionals, which involves limiting courtside access for crowd control and emergency egress reasons.”
Now with the proper people and plans in place, risk assessment and training is continuous. In addition to meeting with the Red Cross and the Onondaga County Disaster Preparedness Committee, the committee has invited guest speakers and participated in exercises with other organizations, such as a terrorism drill at P&C Stadium sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Onondaga County Emergency Management Department last June.
“It’s really great that we can have these resources together,” says Marlene Hall, director of Public Safety and a committee member. “Part of the responsibility of the Logistics Committee is to let people know that things are in very capable hands.”
More information about SU’s preparation for emergency situations can be found at http://sunews.syr.edu/EmergencyPreparedness/campusResources.html.