Western Washington University is active in its efforts to prepare for emergency situations and disasters. The WWU Emergency Management Committee meets regularly. Its members, who are listed in Appendix A, continue to evaluate and pursue more effective measures relating to mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. Below is the status of WWU's planning to deal with emergencies, including natural disasters and violence as of Oct. 23, 2008, along with information that will help to guide your actions if an emergency situation occurs.
What do I do if I'm concerned about a threat or unusual behavior that I've observed?
- Individuals who are concerned about a person's behavior, either personally or to the campus in general, even if no violence or threat of violence has occurred, should call the "SAFE" Campus phone number: (360) 650-SAFE (7233). Trained personnel screen the information provided and forward it to the Safety Assessment Team or appropriate university office. This helps campus professionals evaluate students and others who may be exhibiting behavior that is reason for concern.
How WWU will communicate with me in the event of an emergency?
Steam whistle alert:
- The steam whistle, Big Ole, located on top of the Steam Plant, will sound upon the identification of an emergency that affects the campus community and requires immediate response.
- Big Ole was re-machined during the summer of 2008 to increase the strength of the signal. Tests were conducted on October 19th, 2008, in conjunction with a quarterly test of emergency communication messages.
- Big Ole was clearly heard in all parts of campus and the surrounding neighborhood, on the North end of the city, and across the Bay. The campus area with the most muted sound was inside the Garden Street entrance to the Viking Union building.
- Environmental Health and Safety staff using some Audiology Clinic instrumentation determined that Big Ole can be powered for up to 30 seconds and be within protective levels for hearing safety. This will be the set duration of the whistle blast.
- Upon hearing the Big Ole whistle, individuals should seek information in the form of text messages, email messages, and/or on the WWU emergency Web site: emergency.wwu.edu.
- Further tests are planned to evaluate the effectiveness of the text-to-voice messages for sending to phone lines on campus.
- Emergency emails will be sent to all WWU official email addresses describing the nature of the emergency.
- Information will be disseminated on the emergency.wwu.edu Web site, which is hosted at an external location. This system will still function even if university servers are down. The same external system hosts the text message and email communication systems described above. The servers should be able to function nationwide despite local emergencies or disasters. If that webpage is unavailable, go to the WWU homepage: http://www.wwu.edu/.
- Upon the recognition of an emergency requiring action for safety, a text message will immediately be sent to the university community. The Emergency Management Committee crafted the message content to provide clear instructions with locations.
- A limitation of the Public Information and Emergency Response (PIER) System's text messaging is that the text messages appear to be FROM a random number (e.g. 534-30 or another similar number, not a phone number); the FROM field does not state that it is from WWU. The text within the message clarifies that the message is being sent from WWU and is an important alert. If you are in doubt about the authenticity of the text message, you can consult the emergency.wwu.edu Web site, which will be providing up-to-date information.
- Members of the Emergency Management Committee contacted several universities and collected a variety of emergency message options. The committee is fine-tuning the messages. Dr. David Sattler, WWU Professor of Psychology, is currently conducting research to determine whether the messages effectively convey the nature of the emergency, and whether the text messages are clearly understood by students, staff and faculty.
- To date, over 70% of students, 37% of staff, and 20% of faculty have provided their cell phone numbers to Web4U to receive emergency text messages. (The high number of students' cell phone numbers collected resulted from requesting cell phone numbers as students picked up their fall bus passes.)
- Parents of students and general community members can sign-up on the emergency.wwu.edu Web site to receive emergency information.
- Text messaging methods are not error-free. It is expected to take 10 minutes for all messages to be received, and messages can sometimes be delayed during the delivery process. However, it remains a highly useful method of rapid contact when used in conjunction with other communication techniques. It is anticipated that as long as some people within a nearby area receive an emergency message, that they will spread the word to people who have not yet received the message.
- Those currently not using text messaging are encouraged to become accustomed to it. In many disaster scenarios, this is the most effective method of disseminating information, as it requires less signal strength for transmission and reception.
- If other communication devices fail, campus information will be disseminated via town criers.
- Funds for a voice annunciation system for interior and exterior spaces on campus were requested in the supplemental budget but not allocated. This system is currently part of the capital budget request for 2009-2011. The voice annunciation system would be centrally controlled by university police, so that rapid instructions and updates could be disseminated to selected or all buildings on campus at one time.
- The above funds include loudspeakers to be added to the blue-light emergency call boxes that are scattered throughout campus, so that emergency messages can be broadcast through those devices.
- WWU is working with the City of Bellingham in order to use the City's ‘My States' emergency communication system to be able to ring all landlines (telephone lines that are not cell phones) within the university neighborhood in order to broadcast emergency messages.
What do I do in the event of an emergency?
Ahead of Any Emergency:
- Review the information in the WWU Emergency Response Guide regarding emergencies of varying kinds. Hang the guide in a visible location for quick reference.
- Be aware of your departmental emergency plan and building evacuation plan.
- Back up your work-related information so you can retrieve it even if you cannot return to your workplace.
- Evaluate the spaces you frequent and know where to drop, cover and hold in an earthquake.
- Know 2 exit routes from your office and the classrooms in which you are teaching. Floor plans are on the Facilities Management Web site.
- Have emergency supplies at work and at home including personal medications. Personal 72-hour kits are considered the minimum. The AS Bookstore sells pre-made emergency kits.
- First aid and CPR training is available to campus employees. Call the Environmental Health and Safety office to sign up or access the WWU training Web site at http://west.wwu.edu/training/.
- If you haven't already, sign up for emergency text messages by providing your cell phone number at: http://www.wwu.edu/web4u.
- Include becoming emergency ready as a part of your life. The City of Bellingham has resources for preparing your self, your family and your own neighborhood at this Web site: http://www.cob.org/services/safety/emergencies/map-your-neighborhood.aspx. Whatcom County provides this program and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training.
During or After an Emergency:
- Drop, cover and hold, if you feel an earthquake. And then, when and if it is safe to exit the building, gather at your building meeting location or at a major disaster meeting location.
- Evacuate immediately if the fire alarm sounds. In classrooms, instruct students to calmly gather coats and books and exit slowly and with order. Respond to your building meeting location.
- If feasible, consult the WWU Emergency Response Guide for safety advice and contact information.
- As discussed on page 3, if the steam whistle, Big Ole, has sounded, look for information on your university email, cell phone text message and/or WWU emergency Web site.
- Following a major disaster, go to one of the three disaster meeting locations: Old Main lawn, the south campus oval by the Communications Facility, or the tennis courts.
- An emergency wallet card is in development for employees.
How will WWU respond to campus needs during and immediately following an emergency?
- Sustain the university community providing for them as feasible.
- Provide emergency food and water.
- Provide medical assistance by volunteer responders trained in first aid with guidance from the Student Health Center medical staff. WWU's Student Health Center is participating in a county-wide disaster medical coordination plan to provide health care for different types of patients in different facilities throughout the county.
- Provide leadership: Deans will staff the three major disaster locations following a major disaster.
- Evaluate building safety post earthquake and provide emergency shelter.
- Restore utilities and facilities and provide emergency power with generators.
- Provide funds: Financial Services are coordinating a number of methods to access funds for employee payrolls and purchase of goods and services in the event of a disaster.
- Procure resources: Agreements with outside vendors are underway to ensure emergency provisions of materials, services and equipment.
- University Residences staff are looking at ways to strengthen responses for students that live on campus. A student intern with the City of Bellingham, Office of Emergency Management, has been working on emergency training for them.
How will WWU alert and communicate with emergency responders both at WWU and with the City of Bellingham in the event of an emergency?
WWU Emergency Management Team - text-to-voice messages:
- The communications system that hosts the emergency Web site and sends text and e-mail messages is also able to place phone calls to WWU's Emergency Management Team. The phone calls include information converted from text to voice to reduce delays in the release of messages.
- Phone trees are available to administrators for the campus and are updated at least annually.
City of Bellingham and Whatcom County Emergency Responders:
- Phone, text and text-to-voice options described above may be used to contact City and County emergency responders, depending on the nature of the situation. Plans are in place to work with City responders linking via the City's Incident Command Post. Last summer, two WWU staff participated with City and County organizations and agencies in joint training and exercises at the National Incident Training Center in Emmitsburg, MD.
- A satellite communications dish was included in the recent (unfunded) supplemental budget request. Funding continues to be pursued.
- Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ham radio) are being implemented by the City of Bellingham with portable communications equipment placed at fire stations and other strategic locations. WWU will consider volunteer ham radio operators to provide emergency communications services.
What measures are in place to help prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies?
Threats and Violence:
- The Safety Assessment Team, which includes law enforcement, mental health professionals, medical professionals and others, identifies, assesses and manages situations indicating violent or potentially violent behaviors by individuals or groups.
- University Police are available to train campus departments or groups in responses related to an active shooter scenario. Training includes a video regarding effective safety steps to take.
- Campus community members who have concerns related to domestic violence are encouraged to consult the Human Resources new Web site on domestic violence at http://www.acadweb.wwu.edu/hr/disability/DomesticViolence/DomesticViolenceResources.shtml which includes relevant contacts and links, applicable policies and useful information.
Other Types of Emergencies:
- Green coat escorts are available at University Police, (360) 650-3555.
- Personal Safety brochures and posters are available from University Police.
- The Employee Assistance Program is a benefit administered by WWU's Human Resources Department. Heath Promotion Northwest, part of St. Joseph Hospital, provides this free, confidential, and professional assistance. The program is located in the Chestnut Professional Building. Call (360) 715-6565.
- A WWU Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan was prepared. This document is not available on the web due to the sensitive nature of much of the material. Contact the Environmental Health and Safety office for information.
- Departments summarize their emergency preparations in the WWU Safety Information Book, Section 2. Many departments have completed these departmental and building emergency plans. The building plans include designating evacuation routes, floor wardens and safe gathering zones.
- A half-time, permanent fire safety auditor checks facilities to enhance WWU's fire prevention efforts.
- Fire drills are performed annually.
- Selected WWU personnel received National Incident Management System (NIMS) training, and regularly collaborate with City emergency responders and others.
- Exterior emergency call boxes with blue lights at night are located across campus.
- The WWU Emergency Response Guide was distributed to employees in spring 2008.
- New staff employees receive the guide and emergency information at initial orientation.
- Emergency communication elements are in place, as described later in this document.
- WWU students received a wallet-sized card of emergency information and phone numbers when they picked up their fall 2008 bus passes.
- The WWU Emergency Operations Center, also known as an Incident Command Post, is located in the Campus Services Building to respond to large-scale campus emergencies.
- WWU has worked with the Washington State Patrol and with the Council of Presidents to provide a survey of university facilities and a summary of the status of WWU's emergency management planning.
- Plans are in place to communicate in emergencies with external media sources and to work with them productively on campus. County-wide joint communications systems were exercised in April and August for coordinated emergency communications.
How is WWU working to increase the awareness of safety and emergency procedures among the campus community before the event of an emergency?
- The Web site emergency.wwu.edu provides emergency information as well as information related to emergency situations. Under the News and Information tab, an on-line version of the WWU Emergency Response Guide and other related information are available.
- WWU's emergency planning information is available at the Web site: http://www.wwu.edu/depts/ehs/emergency_information.shtml. This Web site includes links to WWU's pandemic planning materials.
- WWU posts policies on the University Policies Web site at http://www.wwu.edu/depts/policies/. Policy U5615.01 is Responding to Campus Violence or Threats of Violence. Policy U5950.03 is the Emergency Management Plan. Policy U5400.04 is Suspending University Operations.
- WWU Emergency Response Guide contains safety advice and contact information. The guide was distributed to the campus in spring 2008 for posting in visible areas.
- Department heads review emergency information with their staff members at least annually.
- New staff employee orientations include a review of emergency information.
- New faculty packets include emergency information.
- The faculty members serving on the Emergency Management Committee will disseminate safety and emergency response planning information to the Faculty Senate, for distribution to departments.
Emergency Management Committee Members
|George Pierce, chair||Vice President, Business and Financial Affairs|
|Mark Bagley||Director of Annual Giving, University Advancement Representative|
|Lawrence Behmer||Associated Students Representative|
|Gary Buma||Manager, Cash|
|Paul Cocke||Director, University Communications|
|David Doughty||Assistant Director, Public Safety|
|Emily Gibson||Medical Director, Student Health Center|
|Nicole Goodman||Associate Director, Human Resources (alternate for Chyerl)|
|John Lawson||Vice Provost, Information Technology|
|Sherry Mallory||Special Assistant to the VP for Student Affairs and Academic Support Services|
|William Managan||Assistant Director, Facilities Management|
|David Meyer||Faculty, Music - Alternate|
|Scott Miles||Faculty, Environmental Studies, Disaster Reduction and Emergency Planning Track|
|Paul Mueller||Risk Manager|
|Arlan Norman||Dean, College of Sciences and Technology|
|Martin Reed||Associate Director, University Residences Facilities|
|Brandi Row||Faculty, Physical Education, Health and Recreation|
|David Sattler||Faculty, Psychology|
|Gayle Shipley||Director, Environmental Health & Safety|
|Randy Stegmeier||Director, Public Safety|
|Kathy Wetherell||Asst. Vice President, Business and Financial Affairs|
|Chyerl Wolfe-Lee||Director, Human Resources|
|Ray Wolpow||Faculty, Secondary Education|