Campus exercise to test emergency procedures set

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Photo of fire alarm.

Emergency exercise set for Nov. 30.

KALAMAZOO—An emergency exercise set for Friday, Nov. 30, will allow units across Western Michigan University's campus to rehearse and evaluate emergency procedures.

For three hours that morning, campus personnel will react and respond to an emergency scenario that is expected to tap the resources and assess the emergency response readiness of personnel at a multitude of levels.  Only a handful of campus administrators know the details of the exercise, which is expected to simulate a multi-day emergency.

Those who are not part of the emergency exercise are unlikely to encounter any changes to the campus or even see the event unfold, but organizers want the entire campus to be aware of the activity.

"While there will be some full-scale as well as functional components to the exercise, nothing should cause alarm or even indicate that a disaster exercise is occurring, except for those who are directly involved or responding to various requests made by emergency teams," says Cam Vossen, WMU's emergency management administrator. "Although practicing disaster exercises is important, the intent is not to cause concern or interrupt campus activities."

The exercise is part of the University's ongoing emergency preparations initiative that has been in place for more than a decade. Periodic simulations allow campus teams to test response times and effectiveness in such areas as communication, public safety, logistics and human services. Over the years, University personnel have been part of exercises that range from simple internal tabletop exercises to full-scale events done in conjunction with city and county officials.

"We engage in disaster exercises to test our emergency plans and specific team objectives, practice using emergency action guidelines, recognize our strengths, analyze weaknesses and develop procedures for improvement," Vossen says.