When Disaster Strikes…What’s the Plan?

Different disasters present unique campus safety requirements.

The topic of campus safety often focuses on the preparation for violent attacks and active shooters. Because of high-profile incidents over the last 20 years, most schools have a strategic plan in place and actively educate students and faculty on the processes to take in the event of such an attack. However, less common are plans and strategies for disaster management.

The most common disasters are usually weather-related, such as a hurricane, earthquake, tornado or other act of nature. But man-made incidents can also trigger the need for disaster response, including chemical spills, explosions and fire, gas leaks, and biological threats. Each of these can affect a school in different ways, requiring different responses. One disaster may necessitate evacuation efforts while another triggers “shelter in place” directives. If the disaster takes place outside of the school’s immediate area, they are often utilized as emergency evacuation shelters for surrounding neighborhoods, or sometimes other schools. For instance, in 2012, the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs caused evacuations at the United States Air Force Academy. The affected students were sent to residence halls in the nearby University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, along with other area evacuees.

Schools located in high-probability disaster areas are more likely to have a comprehensive disaster management plan in place. Tulane University in New Orleans, for example, was often called upon to be an evacuation shelter during hurricanes, but after having to evacuate themselves and completely shut down during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, they developed a full disaster strategy. Tulane now has a 62-page, detailed plan for hurricane response, to be implemented by four teams with specific tasks in the event of a storm. One team remains on campus to oversee basic operations, while another goes offsite to direct recovery activities until full operations can commence on campus. A third team plans and executes the student evacuations, and a fourth team returns once the storm has passed to assess damage and begin recovery efforts. The Tulane hurricane plan is managed by the university’s Office of Emergency Management, who reviews, tests, and updates the plan, conducts preparedness seminars, maintains contracts with evacuation partners for housing and busing, and oversees all maintenance to plan essentials.

Not all schools have, or even need a plan as detailed as Tulane’s. But every school should be aware of the types of disasters, both natural and man-made, that could affect their campus, and have a plan prepared to implement. A solid disaster management plan should account for campus security. Whether your campus is fully evacuated or hosting hundreds of evacuees, you have buildings and assets which require protection. Bold Technologies has the software solutions to manage that protection, whether you are on campus or need to direct security efforts from a remote location.

ManitouNEO, Bold’s alarm monitoring software, has multiple features which prove invaluable not only for day-to-day security, but especially in the time of a disaster. ManitouNEO features a web-based interface, making it accessible from anywhere with internet availability. Even in the event of an evacuation, your property can continue to be monitored from a remote location. Should flooding or other influences cause damage to your on-site server, ManitouNEO can automatically failover to an off-site backup server. Additionally, you have the option to implement ManitouNEO as a Cloud-based solution, which completely removes the need for on-site servers and reduces the risk of equipment failure.

A powerful component of ManitouNEO is the ‘Floorplans’ feature. With this feature, you can upload visual images of the campus, including plans for separate floors, outlying buildings, athletic fields, stadiums, parking lots, and more. Security devices can be linked to the Floorplans and distinctly marked, including surveillance cameras, blue light systems, motion sensors, door access controllers, and any other security device utilized on your campus. When an event is triggered, the correlating device flashes on the screen to draw attention so you can quickly reference the exact location and save precious time during an emergency. You can also access your security devices through the Floorplans to remotely manipulate the devices and observe the property, facilitate lockdowns or allow entry to personnel.

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ManitouNEO offers a full suite of integrations to provide direct access to your security devices, including an extensive list of compatible video surveillance cameras. If your surveillance cameras include PTZ functionality, you can remotely control the movement of the cameras through ManitouNEO, and safely assess the proximity of a threat, such as a wildfire or tornado.

In the event of your campus being used as an evacuation point, security becomes a priority for managing the additional people in and around your buildings. ManitouNEO is connected to multiple access control systems so you can monitor the entries to your buildings and be alerted to any unauthorized access. This is especially useful for areas with high-value electronics, lab equipment or hazardous material storage.

The added pressures of managing a disaster affecting your campus should never impact the effectiveness of your security. The robust features of ManitouNEO are designed to give you total control over your entire campus, whether you are on-site or remote. The alarm automation software is available as an on-site solution or can be hosted in the Cloud with the same availability of features to minimize your up-front costs for equipment. For more information or to schedule a demo, please visit us at www.boldgroup.com.

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