The university emergency operations plan was last revised in 2011. Toward the end of 2014 and at the beginning of 2015, an emergency committee was formed to review and update the plan.
Scott Shuman, director of Legal Affairs, became involved in what he calls the “emergency-planning group” back in July 2014 and took on a chair role in September.
“The multifold focus in this group involves updating the emergency plan, evaluating the forms of different perspectives and identifying updates that are needed,” said Shuman. “We are also acknowledging recommendations for the policy and working to improve the response time in an emergency situation.”
Shuman defined “response” in a broad sense including responses to ranging from natural disasters, gas leaks to active shooters on campus. The main focus on updating the emergency operations plan is responding to an active shooter situation.
The focus is on the opportunities for prevention and looking at the overall preparedness for Pacific’s response.
“What the actual response would be is how students, faculty and staff members, Campus Public Safety, Forest Grove Police Department and Forest Grove first responders respond,” Shuman said. “And how the police and first responders can gain access to campus and the time it takes to clear the campus.”
From a recovery perspective, Shuman said this involves communicating with family members of students and supporting those involved in an emergency situation. In this perspective, people have to be prepared to contact family members so they are aware of what happened and address their response to the situation as well.
“The response isn’t only physical, it’s also psychological and we take note of that,” Shuman said.
One way the committee is trying to improve on the university’s overall safety is looking into putting in remote locks in high traffic buildings.
In an emergency situation, the doors would be able to be locked from a remote location. During this situation, people would be able to leave the building but nobody would have access to enter.
Some buildings already have remote locks installed, including resident halls. While Shuman said the idea of having remote locks on all buildings is great, Shuman said at the moment they are focusing on high traffic buildings and working on developing a timeline and budgeting out appropriately.
“We are trying to personalize a response according to each building since they are all different in some way,” Shuman said. “We are also making sure that the remote lock system is integrated, can be implemented quickly and we get that response right.”
The preparation process includes a testing plan. The testing plan trains members ensuring they are fully trained on how to respond to an emergency situation.
Currently, Shuman said they are trying to respectfully coordinate fire drills and lock down drills with other faculty and staff member’s schedules. The proposed timeline is to do additional fire drills by January and to start lock down drills by March 2016.
The emergency-planning group is a growing group involving faculty, staff and students and meets on a monthly basis. The group includes Forest Grove campus representatives from public safety, student life, facilities, custodial, human resources and faculty senate.
There is a representative from the Hillsboro campus and from the Eugene campus. Marketing and Communications Department (MarCom) also has a representative to help with media relations and integrating the emergency communication plan.
“Updating the [emergency preparedness] plan is important and we want to make sure it is still relevant, accurate and well-integrated amongst the other Pacific campuses,” Shuman said.
Since the Washington County has its own emergency plan, the committee is trying to coordinate the university’s plan with the county’s plan.
“We have met with Michael Kinkade, the Fire Chief of Forest Grove Fire Department and Washington County representative for emergency management to improve on the community and university relationship in an event of an emergency,” Shuman said.
According to Shuman, the group is working with emergency response community members like Kinkade to better understand how the university can respond accordingly to an emergency situation and also to understand how the university can play a role in the community.
Shuman said communication is a huge priority and the emergency-planning group.
“We want to strengthen our relationship with the community,” Shuman said. “We want to make sure we have determined the right avenues to effectively communicate with the community and university members in creating an efficient response to any emergency situation on campus.”
There will be a 15-20 minute active shooter trainingvideothatwillbeavailableonMoodlewithin the next two weeks.
The active shooter training video highly encourages having a “survivor mentality” onset.
According to Shuman, the timeline for this video is hopefully making it available before Thanksgiving weekend. Although the training video is not required, itishighlyencouragedthatallmembersofthePacific community watch it.
“We encourage everybody to view it because it is quality material and our individual preparation is a big part on how we respond,” Shuman said. “Our awareness and response makes all of us safer and the video will make us better prepared and ready if an emergency situation happens.”