Case Study: Radford University Overcomes Emergency Management Hurdles

Officials at Radford University in Virginia have collaborated with other campuses and first responders, as well as city, county and state government officials to overcome its emergency preparedness obstacles.

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Internal, External Communications Key to Success
As a significant component in its emergency planning process, RU officials realized that internal and external communications need to be nurtured so all agencies and institutions located in the academic triangle can maximize the knowledge and information flow. One of the key factors contributing to the success of current planning efforts is the centralized coordination of campus activities and the development of emergency preparedness policies, response polices and operational procedures that will provide campus-wide guidance in accordance with university, state and federal guidelines.

To support these efforts, RU established the Office of Emergency Preparedness (OEP) and appointed a director for the office. With the active support, direction and participation by the RU president and cabinet, significant work has been accomplished, including:

  • Completed a comprehensive all-emergency management action plan. This includes provisions for continuous review and revision as needed to maintain currency with requirements for addressing potential emergencies, including pandemics

     

  • Developed and implemented comprehensive campus-wide training programs
    that addressed preparedness awareness related to policies, procedures and communication portals. These include responsibilities of RU administration, faculty, staff and students regarding emergency preparedness planning and response

     

  • Developed long-range training and a professional plan for RU administration using department of emergency management (VDEM) -NIMS compliant training model for academic institutions

     

  • Developed a comprehensive plan to address emergency notification and communications issues between university, regional and state emergency response elements, including RU extended education centers and off-campus educational partners

     

  • Developed an academic continuity plan that will assure the integrity of instructional delivery during a crisis

     

  • Ensured that parents and students are aware of emergency management procedures by implementing workshops and information sessions for incoming freshmen and their parents

     

  • Updated our continuity of operations plan (COOP) and submitted it to the Commonwealth of Virginia

     

  • Conducted terrorism and security training sessions

Collaboration Necessary for Smaller Institutions
In a time of declining resources for higher education, the ability to marshal the resources of local and regional community agencies is becoming much more essential. RU is a mid-size, comprehensive university. Unlike larger institutions, RU has to rely on emergency response agencies within the surrounding community to effectively respond to a crisis. There are countless other universities that are in similar situations. This reality becomes more significant when one considers the fact that these smaller institutions are no less immune to emergencies.

Therefore, the development and validation of a community-based all-hazard emergency management model for higher education institutions appears to meet a need that seemingly has not been addressed.

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