Campus and city will test emergency preparedness
Oct. 28, 2004
KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University and the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety will engage in a full-scale emergency exercise between 8 a.m. and noon Tuesday, Nov. 9.
The exercise will be based around Vandercook Hall on the WMU East Campus, and several emergency and public safety vehicles will be at the scene. For more than six months, representatives from offices across the campus and KDPS have been planning the mock disaster, which involves a fictional explosion, fire and multiple casualties.
The November drill marks the first major test of emergency preparedness efforts that began at WMU in late 2000. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, the effort drew a new sense of urgency. Changes in 2002 to Michigan law required universities of 25,000 or more students to have an emergency management coordinator.
Dr. Patricia Holton, WMU manager of environmental health and safety, has served as the university's emergency coordinator since 2002, and she regularly convenes a campuswide team that is responsible for designing a plan flexible enough to respond to any level of emergency or critical incident.
Holton says the interaction of people charged with leading response teams on campus has been a huge benefit to WMU. "We all tend to work in our own silos," she says. "This has given us a chance to get to know the people we'll need to rely on in a real emergency. A drill like this lets us practice what we've planned and uncover the weaknesses in our plans."
Previous campus drills have been "tabletop" or functional drills with emergency scenarios that are played out in a common setting and in a compressed time frame.
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