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Preparedness drill tests campus systems

WSU seems positioned to operate well in case of an emergency.

That’s the assessment after an exercise Friday morning, Aug. 12, that tested emergency response at the Pullman campus.

The WSU scenario followed an emergency drill, beginning about 3 a.m., that was completed successfully in the northeast part of campus by WSU and Pullman police and the Pullman fire department.

Beginning at 7 a.m. and concluding at about noon, the WSU emergency response team used the earlier drill to simulate its own response.

WSU apparently passed the test.

“It is going pretty well for the first exercise,” said Rich Heath, associate vice president for Business Affairs, who commented late morning. “People are taking this seriously, and that’s what we need to do.”

He commended participants — about 30 WSU personnel who staffed the campus emergency response center — for their prompt arrival after receiving a call at home between 7 and 7:20. a.m. Some glitches were found, he said, but they were small and scattered, rather than significant system failures.

The scenario follows months of work to formulate and collect emergency plans from all areas of campus. Also established was the plan for the emergency operations center, which is fully functional with computers, phones and personnel.

“But we had never actually used it,” Heath said. “We needed to see if it actually worked.” For the most part, he said, it did.

The next step essentially will be to work the two drills that occurred Friday into just one.

“In the future, we will need to tie in the county, city and state,” Heath said. “We will need to have a larger exercise where we see how we all work together. But we didn’t want to do that yet; we didn’t want them involved until we knew WSU could function smoothly.”

“This exercise is important for testing the university’s processes for responding to a complex emergency situation,” said Barbara Petura, associate vice president for University Relations.

That includes emergency communication to employees using mechanisms such as the WSU Alert e-mail messages and the related WSU Alert Web site at http://www.alert.wsu.edu/.

“I encourage faculty, staff and students to learn about the ways emergency information would be distributed,” Petura said, noting that a listing can be found on a new Emergency Communication Resources Web page: http://www.alert.wsu.edu/emergency.html.

 

 

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