Every organization must be prepared to effectively cope with the unique problems that arise in an emergency situation. Emergency preparedness is critical to protect employees, citizens, clients, students and property against all natural disasters and other incidents such as fires, bomb threats, active shooter and hazardous chemical release. Effective planning for emergency situations can minimize the interruption of operations by providing a logical course of action during the emergency.
Emergency preparedness requires a system for the prompt recognition of a serious situation; the availability of a well-publicized, flexible, tested plan and clear delineation of the responsibilities of employees. Each organizational unit must stress the importance of being prepared in emergencies. Instructions for emergency situations should be posted in each facility and office. Emergency procedures should be established, implemented and monitored by a local office emergency preparedness coordinator.
The purpose of the Emergency Preparedness Plan is to ensure that each agency develops a plan for the safe evacuation of all persons in the affected area and the rapid control of hazards during life threatening situations. This plan includes procedures for 1) preventing and controlling emergency situations, 2) warning employees of actual or impending disasters and preparing them for possible evacuation or shelter in place, and 3) establishing safe evacuation routes.
Refer to Nicholls State University Policy/Procedure Manual, Section 1.1 Emergency Protocol for additional information.
A. Components of the Program
Emergency Control Committee – An emergency control committee will be organized at Nicholls State University in each facility. This committee develops plans for emergency situations. Control of emergencies such as fire, explosion, or toxic chemical releases requires the coordination of the following: disaster communication, facility shutdown, employee evacuation, utility control, first aid and rescue, damage control, and notification of police and fire departments and hospitals.
1. Emergency Preparedness Committee – The Emergency Preparedness Committee is responsible for managing the Emergency Preparedness Plan and coordinating the University’s response to an emergency.
2. Emergency Crews – A team organized for emergency response with regards to the operation and maintenance of the University. This team shall always be available and remain in action until the emergency is resolved.
3. Emergency Alarms – A distinctive, reliable emergency signal that is capable of being heard throughout the University. The University’s Emergency Communication includes the following:
- Emergency Blue Light
- Emergency Sirens
- Text Messaging
- Website Updates
- Building Fire Alarm Systems
Testing of the systems will be in accordance with the Nicholls State University Emergency Communication System Testing Protocol.
4. Emergency First Aid – University Health Services provides emergency first aid to faculty, staff and students. If additional medical attention is required, Thibodaux Regional Medical Center Emergency Room will provide service.
5. Emergency Power System – Automatic emergency power supply systems should be installed in areas where uninterrupted electrical service is essential for the preservation of life or property, such as areas where precise procedures are performed, or in areas where sensitive equipment is located (instruments or supplies requiring refrigeration). There should also be a manual control switch to activate the emergency power if the automatic system should fail. Alternative power sources and equipment should be maintained and regularly tested to ensure that the system is capable of supplying service within the time limits required by specific operations.
B. Procedures for Handling Specific Emergency Situations
1. Fire Prevention and Control – Almost all fires are preventable, and control measures can limit losses if a fire does occur. Fire prevention and control principles include the following:
a. Prevent a fire from starting by using fireproof construction materials, designing facilities to isolate hazardous areas, controlling operations, using preventive maintenance and eliminating unsafe practices.
b. Promptly discover the fire and extinguish it before it grows out of control. Most fires start small and can initially be extinguished by a hand-held fire extinguisher.
c. Limit the spread of fires. Provide suitable fire barriers and keep the amount of combustibles stored to a minimum.
d. Maintain exit facilities.
2. The following components are essential to a fire safety and prevention program.
Alarm Systems – Prompt discovery of a fire is vital, Fire sensing and alarm system should be reliable and should be designed for rapid discovery of a fire. An effective alarm system must:
- be reliable and distinctive
- reach those trained to respond
- compel immediate attention
- indicate the fire location
- warn building occupants and area residents
Extinguishing Facilities and Equipment – Fire protection must be incorporated into the building design to achieve maximum effectiveness. Special processes presenting unique fire protection problems should be handled individually by fire protection engineers and the Office of Risk Management.
Water Supply – Water is the most effective extinguishing agent for most fires. A reliable water supply is essential and should be sufficient to fulfill the demand of the automatic protection system for at least four (4) hours. Water for fire fighting should be stored separately from process and domestic water.
Distribution Systems – Pumping equipment may be required to produce the water pressure demanded by the fire fighting operations.
Monthly Fire Extinguisher Equipment Inspection and Maintenance – All fire protection equipment, such as pumps, hydrants, hose lines, automatic equipment and portable extinguishers, should be inspected and maintained on a monthly basis. Equipment testing also provides training opportunities for employees.
Fire Fighting Organization – Since Nicholls State University does not have professional fire fighting capabilities on campus, it relies upon the City of Thibodaux Fire Department for professional, trained assistance whenever alarms are sounded or evident fires exist.
Civil Disorders – The following are some suggestions for handling civil disorders.
- Emergency Authority – Supervisors may be given additional authority during civil disorders.
- Emergency Responsibility – During emergencies, responsibility for areas vulnerable to attack or necessary operations should be assigned to specific persons. Responsibility for decisions in these particular areas should be assigned to employees with knowledge of the area and who will be present at the emergency.
- Community Relations – A person should be designated to communicate with new media and the public. The public should be informed of potential hazards as soon as possible.
- Security – Strict security of the facility should remain in effect until the emergency is over. Gates and doors should be closed and perimeter fences maintained. Entry into the facility should be strictly controlled.
Natural Disasters – The following are some suggested procedures for handling natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, or tornadoes.
a. Only enter disaster area if it is essential.
b. Do not bring lanterns, torches, or lighted cigarettes into buildings that have been flooded or damaged because of the possibility of leaking gas lines or flammable materials.
c. Do not touch fallen or damaged electric wires.
d. Immediately leave the area upon discovering a leaking gas line.
e. Formulate plans to isolate people from potential hazards.
f. Identify the disconnecting switch or master control valves for utility service and make them accessible.
g. When a tornado warning is issued, take shelter immediately. The warning indicates that a tornado has been sighted in the area. Protect yourself from falling objects and flying debris. The best protection is a ditch or a steel-framed or reinforced-concrete building. If no shelter is available, go to the inner hallway of the lowest floor of the building.
Bomb Threats – Every threat should be taken seriously. If a bomb threat is received by mail, message, or telephone, record in writing the time and type of threat, location of the bomb, expected time of detonation, if it is a male or female voice, and any other important information. If the threat is received by phone, keep the person on the phone as long as possible to determine any unusual voice characteristics such as raspy, hoarseness, or stuttering. Ask why the bomb was placed there and who the caller wished to hurt. Report a bomb threat to a supervisor, who will contact campus security.
Additional Emergency Situations – Additional information on emergency situations can be found in the Nicholls State University Policy/Procedure Manual, Section 1.1.2, Emergency and Disaster Procedure, or located on the Quick Reference Emergency Procedures Guide.