The tragic events at Virginia Tech have led to a nationwide conversation in higher education as to how to better protect students, faculty, staff, and guests of universities and colleges. Because of this unprecedented occurrence, the open environment and academic freedoms historically enjoyed on campuses must be now considered in an entirely different context.
It is worthy of note that Missouri State University currently has in place a comprehensive Emergency Response Plan. As directed in the President’s charge to the Emergency Response Task Force (Task Force), the Emergency Response Plan served as a starting point for discussions and recommendations to augment this existing plan. A basic principle which guided the Task Force throughout its deliberations is the safety and security of the student population and the larger campus community. The Task Force urges that, in considering its recommendations, a priority be placed on those locations where students gather.
Phase I of the Task Force report dealt with issues regarding an armed shooter-type emergency, and discussed Communication Systems & Response Plans, Building & Door Access, Faculty, Staff & Student Awareness/Proactive Intervention Strategies, and Relationships with Law Enforcement and First Responders & Training for Campus Public Safety Officers.
This final report contains the findings of the second phase and takes into consideration specific topic areas which the Task Force concluded will enhance the University’s existing emergency response document.
Specifically the topics discussed, by sub-committee, are:
After assessing the various requirements of an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) facility, the sub-committee recommends that JQH Arena serve as the University’s primary EOC location, and Meyer Alumni Center be the alternate EOC location. The sub-committee has also determined the following will be required to meet operational needs: each facility would need to have an adequately-sized generator; appropriate locations for UPS power will need to be determined; redundant communication paths need to be created so voice and data communications will remain in operation in at least one of the EOC locations; backup internet connections to each EOC provided; the current phone system and networking equipment should be upgraded; the physical design and space layout of each EOC must be determined; organization and staffing requirements should be specified; communication equipment needs must be identified; Emergency Operations Center Guidelines established; and EOC training, exercises and drills should be provided.
The sub-committee reviewed the existing Civil Disorders/Demonstrations chapter in the Emergency Response Plan and did not feel modifications are needed to the existing policy.
The sub-committee decided that, because the field of emergency and disability evacuation is fairly new, growing rapidly, and very specialized, experts regarding disability and emergency evacuation should be participants in the development of the Emergency Response Plan. The recommendations of the Disability Services Advisory Committee are included as Appendix A.
The sub-committee recommends hand-held radios be available for each Building Coordinator to facilitate instant communication. The sub-committee also suggests additional development of training for faculty and staff on the potential emergencies on campus, such as fire, severe weather, bomb threats, medical emergency, and individuals with guns. The sub-committee suggests additional emphasis on a campus-wide initiative to eventually sprinkle all University facilities. Also, an evacuation notification route for each identifiable room on campus should be available. Assessment should be conducted to determine the quantity and type of staffing required to plan, implement, train, and sustain on-going emergency preparedness for the entire University community.
The sub-committee recommends a review of policy content and a determination of of who needs access to the policies. The Emergency Notification List should be expanded to include calls for primary staff, faculty, and emergency support. The Emergency Notification List should be reviewed at least semi-annually to insure that it remains accurate. There should be mandatory annual training for all Custodial, Residence Life and Services staff, and for all Teaching Assistants. Consistent language should be adopted and used in describing departments in policies as to avoid confusion. The sub-committee recommends scheduling regular lab inspections to ensure that the equipment identified in the Emergency Response Plan is actually present in the labs. Tabletop exercises should be conducted annually to insure that the campus community is prepared to respond to emergencies.
The sub-committee recommends that the Emergency Response Plan be updated where necessary to reflect current state and federal planning in the areas. Three things should be emphasized: 1) awareness of existing procedures and policies; 2) exercises in emergency response (drills); and 3) signage. Also with both severe weather (tornadoes) and earthquakes (building collapse), buildings on campus should be evaluated to determine which ones are structurally sound and resistant to natural forces. The sub-committee also recommends that First Responders be designated for key locations who would serve as point of contacts when implementing the Emergency Response Plan for a crisis. Each location should have a primary and alternate First Responder. There should also be a requirement that First Responders participate in a scheduled training program annually and maintain any required certifications. It is also suggested that the campus be divided into zones for managing crisis responses to maximize level of control, communication, and response to emergencies.
Please direct questions regarding this report to Mr. Ken McClure, Chair, Emergency Response Task Force, at 836-8505.