Emergency Response and Evacuation Procedures Policy

Emory University recognizes the importance of providing emergency information and notifications to the university community. The decision as to whether an emergency exists may rest with one of three units depending upon the type of emergency:

  • Emory Police Department (criminal)
  • Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response (public safety, e.g., gas leak, water main break, environmental threats)
  • Weather Information Vendor (severe weather emergencies)

Upon confirmation of an emergency or dangerous situation, and taking into account the safety of the community, Emory will without delay determine the appropriate message for distribution and initiate the notification process. In the event that activation of the emergency notification system would compromise efforts to assist a victim, contain the emergency, respond to the emergency or otherwise mitigate the emergency, Emory may delay activation of the system.

Emergency photo

Emory uses several different methods for emergency notifications and information distribution. These include: sirens; public address systems; text messaging; social media messaging; cable banner messaging; media advisories; desk top messaging; and mass e-mail. Collectively, these tools comprise Emory’s emergency notification system. We use pre-scripted messages. Additional messaging will be directed based on the circumstances, and at the discretion of the incident commander, based on the impacts to the safety and security of the campus community.

Emory shall use the emergency notification system to provide instructions or information during and after a situation where student, faculty or staff’s health and safety may be at risk due to a natural disaster, criminal activity, severe weather or other threats. Emory may also use components of the system to notify, recall, and provide guidance to faculty and staff members responding to or managing the event.

All police personnel employed by the Emory Police Department and all personnel employed by the Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response are authorized to initiate activation of the emergency notification system.

Concept of Operations

The Emory Police Department Communications Center is the primary twenty-four hour operation designated to initiate campus emergency notifications. The University Technology Services (LITS) Call Center shall serve as the secondary twenty-four hour operation in the event the Emory Police Communications Center is unable to initiate a campus emergency notification.

The university’s Emergency Operation Center also has the capacity to launch the emergency notification system. The Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response (CEPAR) and University Communications will distribute additional notifications as an incident progresses through one or more of the available communications systems (including but not limited to: cellular text messaging, the use of web and cable banners , social media, and mass e-mail notifications to the Emory Community).

Assumptions

  • Incidents and/or events that impact the Emory community may necessitate the emergent notification of students, faculty and staff.
  • Assuring notification to one hundred percent (100%) of the community members impacted by an incident/event is often not possible. Emory shall take reasonable steps using the methods at its disposal to communicate with affected community members.
  • Students, staff and faculty members will be encouraged to participate in the optional cellular text message portion of the notification system. Students will be directed to a registration page at the beginning of each semester when they logon to the Online Pathway to University Services (OPUS) system. Faculty and staff will be directed annually to a registration page in the PeopleSoft self-service module. Students, faculty and staff will be asked to provide or confirm their information before proceeding into OPUS or PeopleSoft. Students, faculty and staff may choose to opt-out of the system.
  • Events requiring community notification may also tax the resources of the university. For redundancy and back-up purposes, the university shall designate two (2) locations staffed twenty-four hours per-day, seven-days-per-week with the capability to launch notifications by established protocol or upon direction of university official’s authorization to send notifications. These are the Emory Police Communications Center and the LITS Call center.

System Testing and Maintenance

Emergency Notification System

The emergency systems are tested on a monthly basis to ensure that the systems are functioning. The systems tested include: warning sirens; mass notification system; Twitter; Web banners; and cable banner. The results of the tests are documented and maintained in a database, so that corrective action (s) can be monitored and tracked.

Warning Sirens Testing

Functionality of the warning sirens are monitored in the following manner:

  • The system monitor is checked by the EPD dispatcher every shift to ensure that all sirens show operational status.
  • The sirens are polled once a week without activating the siren.
  • The sirens are tested on a monthly basis on the first Wednesday of the month at 12 noon.
  • If the sirens are not tested due to inclement weather, they will be tested the following Wednesday at 12 noon.
  • Documentation of testing and activation activities will be documented and maintained in a database, so that corrective action can be monitored and tracked.
  • A preventive maintenance program is in place and is documented in the database. The program consists of the following: Annual inspection, biannual certification, and a battery replacement program.

Activation

The warning sirens are activated for weather emergencies, law enforcement emergencies, and hazardous materials emergencies. The sirens will be sounded with brief pauses until the threat has passed or until the incident commander has deemed that the sirens can be safely stopped. All clear messages will not be sent.

In the event of a campus-wide emergency, the Emory Police Communications Center will initiate notification of key representatives of the University leadership, CEPAR and the crisis management team. CEPAR maintains comprehensive information about the University’s general emergency management processes. General guidelines about what to do in an emergency can be found in the campus emergency guides, “Just in Time, A Guide to Campus Emergencies” for the Emory campus available throughout the Emory campus and electronically at http://emergency.emory.edu/just-in-time/index.html; and, “Just in Time, A Guide to Campus Emergencies” for the Oxford campus available throughout the Oxford campus and electronically at http://emergency.emory.edu/just-in-time/index.html.

Building Evacuation & Procedures

Depending on the circumstances, Emory University Police and other first responders may decide to either partially or totally evacuate any University building. Under a partial evacuation request, occupants may be simply asked to relocate to another portion of the building deemed safe by the police, fire or other first responders. Complete evacuation will result in all persons leaving the building and moving to a designated assembly area.

Drills and Exercises

Emory conducts emergency response and evacuations exercises in the form of tabletop and practical drills on at the least an annual basis. The actual type of drill conducted is determined by the scenario and items necessary for evaluation. Scheduled and unscheduled building fire and evacuation drills are conducted on a semi-annual basis in residence halls and an annual basis in all other campus buildings. Emory tests components of the emergency notification system on a monthly basis. CEPAR maintains records of drills and exercises, documenting the date, time, and description of the exercise, as well as whether it was announced or unannounced. Records pertaining to the annual and semi-annual Fire Drills are maintained by the Office of the Director of Fire Safety. These records are available by request.