Emergency Response and Evacuation Procedures Policy

Emory University provides emergency notifications and information to the university community. The Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response maintains overall responsibility for the development, maintenance, and operation of Emory’s emergency notification, emergency response and evacuation procedures. The decision as to whether an emergency exists may rest with one of four units depending upon the type of emergency:

  • Emory Police Department (Tornado Warnings, Active Shooter and Law Enforcement events).
  • Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response (public safety, g. gas leak; water main break; natural disasters; environmental threats; outbreak of meningitis, norovirus or other serious illness).
  • Healthcare Administrator On-duty/On-call (in compliance with Healthcare Emergency Code protocols at individual Healthcare campuses).
  • National Weather Service and/or the University’s private meteorological service (severe weather emergency monitoring). EPD serves as the primary point of contact for monitoring severe weather service notifications and for activation of the Emergency Notification System as warranted via such weather service notification.

Upon confirmation of an emergency or dangerous situation involving an immediate threat to the health or safety of students or employees occurring on the campus, Emory will, without delay, determine the appropriate message for distribution and initiate the emergency notification process. Depending on the type of emergency and the extent of the threat posed, Emory may distribute an entity-wide emergency notification or may limit emergency notification distribution to a specific campus or segment of the population.  If 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.

The Emory Emergency Notification program (PDF 41KB) is a multi-modal system for alerting students, staff, faculty and visitors of an emergency affecting the Emory community. The wide array of notification options affords Emory the flexibility to convey emergency information in the most appropriate manner and provides redundancy to help ensure the message gets out. Not all emergencies require all of the notification components to be engaged simultaneously.  Emergency notification system components include sirens; public address systems; text messaging; digital signage; social media messaging; cable banner messaging; media advisories; LiveSafe safety app messaging; mass e-mail; and overhead page and text messaging at individual Healthcare campuses.  Emory may use pre-scripted messages for many scenarios. 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 Healthcare campuses utilize an established Emergency Code process for distribution of Emergency Notifications.  Healthcare staff who become aware of an emergency situation may initiate the Emergency Code process by contacting the Healthcare Call Center Switchboard serving each Healthcare campus using one of several pre-established emergency phone numbers.  Healthcare Call Center staff will then initiate the emergency notification process appropriate to the specific type of incident being reported.  Emory Healthcare may use several different methods for emergency notifications and information distribution. These include overhead loudspeaker announcements within the impacted facility; text/page messaging to administrative members of the Healthcare Emergency Operations Group; text/page messaging to all healthcare staff; notification of the Healthcare Public Safety Department serving the impacted facility; and notification of the Emory Police Department if the impacted facility is served by EPD.

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 designated employees of the Emory Police Department, all personnel employed by the Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response, and all designated Healthcare leaders are authorized to initiate activation of components of the emergency notification system.


Concept of Operations

The Emory Police Department Communications Center is the primary 24-hour operation designated to serve as the warning point and to initiate the campus emergency notification process. CEPAR can temporarily assume responsibility during the transition should the police dispatch function be required to relocate to a designated back up location due to an emergency.

The Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response (CEPAR) and the university’s Emergency Operation Center also have the authority and the capacity to launch the emergency notification system. Designated Healthcare Leaders have the authority and capacity to launch emergency notifications within the individual Healthcare campuses.  The Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response and Emory’s Office of Communications and Public Affairs 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).



  • Incidents and/or events that impact the Emory community may necessitate the emergent notification of students, faculty and
  • Ensuring notification to one hundred percent (100%) of the community members impacted by an incident/event is often not possible; however, Emory shall take reasonable steps using the methods at its disposal to communicate with affected community
  • 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 log on 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 Students, faculty and staff may choose to opt out of the system.
  • Students, staff and faculty members will be encouraged to participate in the optional LiveSafe Safety App messaging program. LiveSafeis a personal safety mobile app that Emory University provides to all students, faculty, and staff to download for free. The app provides a quick, convenient, and discreet way to communicate directly with Emory University safety officials, enhancing overall safety and allowing Emory University Police to better protect the community.  Community members may utilize the following steps to participate in the LiveSafe App messaging program:  Download LiveSafe from the App Store or Google Play (Enable location services and push notifications when prompted); sign up using your mobile phone number; create a password and fill in your name; search for “Emory University” to connect with the organization; and add your email to your profile (Left Menu > Settings > Profile).
  • Events requiring community notification may also tax the resources of the For redundancy and back-up purposes, the university shall designate two (2) locations staffed twenty-four hours a day, seven –days a week with the capability to launch notifications by established protocol or upon direction of university official’s authorization to send notifications. The Emory Police Communications Center and the Emory Healthcare Call center are the two designated locations.

Emergency Notification System Testing and Maintenance

The CEPAR Office is responsible for testing the emergency notification systems monthly to ensure that the systems are functioning. The systems tested include:  warning sirens; text messaging system; mass e-mail; LiveSafe safety app messaging; 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 University 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
  • The sirens are tested monthly on the first Wednesday of the month at 12
  • If the sirens are not tested due to inclement weather, they will be tested the following Wednesday at 12
  • Documentation of testing and activation activities will be documented and maintained in a database, so that corrective action can be monitored and
  • 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.
  • The Emory Healthcare paging systems are checked each shift to ensure appropriate operations.

Warning Siren Activation

The warning sirens may be 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 University 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 guide, “Just in Time, A Guide to Campus Emergencies” available at http://emergency.emory.edu/just-in-time/index.html.

Building Evacuation / Procedure

As appropriate, Emory Police or 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 department or other first responders. Complete evacuation will result in all persons leaving the building and moving to a designated assembly area. Healthcare Public Safety / Security will provide this service on Healthcare campuses in accordance with established Healthcare facility evacuation protocols.

Drills and Exercises

Emory conducts emergency response and evacuation exercises in the form of tabletop and practical drills on at least an annual basis. The actual type of drill conducted is determined by the scenario and items necessary for evaluation. Announced and unannounced building fire / evacuation drills are conducted each semester in residence halls and on an annual basis in all other University campus buildings. Emory tests components of the emergency notification system monthly. 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 fire drills are maintained by the Office of the Director of Fire Safety.


Emory Healthcare conducts a minimum of (2) two annual emergency response tabletops, functional, or full-scale exercises.  At least one exercise includes an escalating event where the healthcare setting is unable to support the event (i.e., surge capacity testing) and at least one scenario that includes participation in a community-wide exercise. In the healthcare settings, unannounced and randomized timing of fire drills are conducted once per shift per each quarter. Healthcare designated departments maintain records of drills and exercises, including date, time, and description of exercise as well as after-action reviews. Healthcare designated departments maintain records of fire drills including date, time, and location.