Denison University Continues to Update Crisis Management Plan, Emergency Response Guide
Posted: September 27, 2007 / Last Updated: October 5, 2007
Over the last several years, Denison University has been diligent in developing and updating its Crisis Management Plan, covering a wide range of emergencies, from natural disasters and disease outbreaks to large-scale accidents and random violence. One facet of that plan is the development of Denison's Emergency Response Guide (found online at www.denison.edu/offices/security/).
The guide includes basic information for students and employees in the event of a campus emergency. In addition to police, fire or medical crises, the plan has specialized instructions for flooding, civil disturbances, gas leaks, suicide threats, suspicious packages, power outages, weather emergencies and bomb threats. It also includes a campus map, crime-prevention tips and first-aid instructions.
Whenever Denison's administration would deem it necessary to contact all students and employees, a versatile and multilayered notification plan would be initiated. The execution of this plan involves the following:
The Office of Campus and Residential Life and the dean of students would follow the standard operating procedure of contacting the college's assistant deans, directors, assistant directors, head residents and resident advisers. The assistant directors, head residents and resident advisers live on the premises and are ultimately charged with direct communication with the residents in their areas' residence halls, passing along any messages regarding perceived threats and appropriate responses. Because more than 99 percent of Denison's 2,100 students live on campus, essentially the entire student body is under the supervision of the university's Campus and Residential Life staff.
During class hours, there also is in place a process for getting word, via landline phones, to officials in all academic and service buildings. The "Campus Emergency Notification Procedure," a traditional pyramidal phone tree initiated by the Office of Security, Safety and Risk Management, is designed to get word to the most people in the least amount of time.
Simultaneously, officials would relay electronic messages in several different ways: Emergency e-mails would be sent to every student and employee with up-to-the-minute information and instructions.
At the same time, messages would be sent across the college's Novell LAN (local area network) to all computers on campus logged on to the network, which would automatically place a pop-up message on the screen with the same emergency information and instructions.
This year Denison is utilizing Connect-ED for Higher Education, a service offered by The NTI Group Inc., a private vendor that designs comprehensive emergency communication systems. Connect-ED uses a technology commonly referred to as "reverse 911 messaging." This sophisticated crisis communication initiative, titled the "Denison Emergency Alert System," allows the college to text-message or call all students' cell phones in the event of an emergency. While the college's plan is to have this system up and running by January 2008, the college is actively preparing to gather students' cell phone numbers via an online form right now. Beginning in November 2007, students will be strongly encouraged to log on to the My Denison portal to provide emergency information before the end of the fall semester.
Yet another communication asset, the campus radio station WDUB-FM, also would be utilized to disseminate critical information on a real-time basis. The station is broadcast over the air (91.1 FM) and streamed over the Internet (www.wdub.org) . Because Denison has installed a campus-wide wireless data network, any wi-fi equipped computer or PDA anywhere on campus can access the Internet at any time, without being hard-wired to a network port.
In addition, Denison's campus-wide television cable system makes it possible for the Office of Security, Safety and Risk Management to pre-empt programming and broadcast an emergency alert to all campus TVs receiving the college's cable signal.
Denison's Crisis Management Plan is comprehensive, and several times each semester university officials meet to discuss ways to ensure effective crisis notification on a campus like Denison's. In addition, Denison policy makers often confer with colleagues at other colleges and in higher education organizations about new technologies and creative strategies for alerting an entire campus community, should an emergency arise.
One effective means of testing our plan is through the undertaking of "table-top" drills. Our Office of Security, Safety and Risk Management Services regularly arranges crisis management exercises involving key personnel from across the campus community. An emergency situation is defined, and various members of the crisis management team are asked to walk through the steps that need to be taken, according to the institutional emergency response plan. These exercises have been helpful in strengthening the plan and preparing staff members to provide strategic and integrated responses to a broad array of emergency conditions.
Questions regarding Denison's Emergency Response Guide, Emergency Alert System or Crisis Management Plan can be directed to Director of Security, Safety and Risk Management Garret Moore at email@example.com or (740) 587-6482.
- DU -
Denison University, founded in 1831, is an independent, residential liberal arts institution located in Granville, Ohio. A highly selective college enrolling 2,100 full-time undergraduate students from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries, Denison is a place where innovative faculty and motivated students collaborate in rigorous scholarship, civic engagement and the cultivation of independent thinking.
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