The 30-member team, which includes representatives from every University work unit, has been meeting for nearly a year to produce a formal written plan that clearly spells out emergency response procedures for each area of the University.
According to the planning team's co-chairs, Boston College Police Lt. Margaret A. Connolly and Executive Assistant to the President James J. Lehane, the directive will provide guidelines for campus-wide and local communication, service coordination and safety procedures to respond to emergencies such as fires, severe weather situations, long-term power outages, bomb threats, or any act that could threaten lives or safety within the University community.
"A lot of people on campus are already doing this work and doing it very well," Lehane said. "But we wanted to bring together all these professionals and the resources that we already have in place at Boston College to make our efforts even more efficient.
"We have seen how certain departments, such as Residential Life and Student Affairs, have worked so effectively in response to past emergencies," added Lehane, citing the Medeiros residence hall fire in March of 2000.
"That was an example of how a lot of things were done right in an emergency situation. They had a plan in place and were quickly able to relocate the affected students, reimburse them for their immediate losses, feed them and have them call their parents to reassure them that all was well. Later on, we met the students' individual counseling needs and started building reconstruction."
Lehane said the committee has reviewed a variety of crisis incidents and responses at colleges and universities across the country. Last Monday, the team was invited to take part in a live national teleconference on campus emergencies, an exercise that included safety officials from Seton Hall University and Texas A&M University, both of which have had major fire-related emergencies in recent years.
"We have identified a lot of strengths here," Lehane said, "and we identified some areas where we wanted to enhance our preparedness. Now, every department - academic as well as administrative - will have an updated plan for emergencies," he said.
Lehane and Connolly said enhanced communications, both internal and external, are critical to the University's new emergency preparedness plan. The plan includes establishment of a Crisis Incident Command Post as well as expanded use of the University's BCInfo World Wide Web page and e-mail systems as conduits of information. "We want to keep people updated and informed," Lehane said.
Connolly said the use of a command post in major emergency situations will not only establish an on-site decision-making center with state-of-the art communications equipment, but will "put us on the same page with the fire and police departments that are called on to assist us."
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