Emergency Response Manual Summary
Crises are by nature unpredictable and the response to one requires some degree of improvisation and flexibility. Nevertheless, all crises present common challenges for which institutions can plan. Swarthmore College’s administration is prepared if it becomes necessary to respond and inform its constituents and the public in a crisis situation.
In an emergency, members of three distinct teams can be activated: the 24/7 Team, the Emergency Response Team (ERT), and the Crisis Management Team (CMT).
The 24/7 Team is comprised of the vice president for facilities, the vice president for human resources, dean of students, director of public safety, and director of communications, or their designees. Members of 24/7 take the initial lead in implementing the appropriate response plan, assessing the severity of the crisis, reviewing all available information, delegating responsibility where appropriate, and ensuring that the information needs of various constituencies are met.
The ERT is in charge of the immediate physical response at the scene of the crisis and includes at least one representative from the Public Safety Department and also typically includes leaders from the Maintenance, Occupational and Environmental Safety, Residential Life, the Health Center, Human Resources, and Communications departments; leaders from other affected departments may be included as needed.
CMT membership includes the president’s staff, including those on 24/7, the director of communications, the chief information technology officer, and other advisers as needed. The CMT provides additional overall support, strategy, and feedback to help diffuse a crisis situation and provides institutional leadership in the case of an enduring event.
In the event of a crisis and depending upon its nature, Swarthmore will alert and inform the community using a combination of tools. Systems are in place to inform community members via the web, broadcast voicemail messages, cell phones, text messages, email, and text-telephone devices to contact persons with hearing or speech disabilities. Plans are also in place to notify the on campus community of an emergent situation via a “runner” system established in the residence halls and a loudspeaker system in our classrooms.
The tools used to communicate to the campus and the public in the event of an emergency provide two main functions – to alert and inform. However, power outages, equipment failures, and network and telecommunication system failures are all factors that could come into play in a crisis situation. By providing voice, data systems, and other forms of communication that are not dependent on a common infrastructure (such as cellular and satellite phone systems), Swarthmore is able to ensure that the College’s administration can communicate effectively even if there are no campus communications systems available.
Emergency evacuation plans are being developed should an emergency situation arise at a large-scale event on campus, such as commencement. Routine fire drills are also conducted twice a year in residence halls.