UL System Called a “Model” for Emergency Preparedness Efforts – Feb 1, 2008
Releases Report on Campus Plans
BATON ROUGE – As part of an ongoing commitment to campus safety, representatives from the eight University of Louisiana System campuses traveled to Baton Rouge today for the inaugural meeting of the UL System Emergency Preparedness Steering Committee. The action committee complements other recent UL System efforts including crisis communication training and selection of a text messaging system designed to minimize risk to students during emergency situations.
“Keeping our students safe is a top priority,” said UL System Executive Vice President Kim Hunter Reed. “Although preventive measures are essential, it is critical that we also focus on strong emergency planning. I thank the members of the steering committee for their dedication to this important cause.”
Back in November, the System hired a national consulting firm, Dewberry and Davis, LLC, to review campus emergency plans in an effort to strengthen campus operations and communications in the event of a crisis.
The report, which is available at www.ulsystem.net, provides 26 recommendations ranging from establishing a steering committee to drive campus improvements, to reviewing lessons learned from the Virginia Tech shootings and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to ultimately establishing resource and recovery centers in North and South Louisiana.
Laura Johnston, Planning and Program Manager for Dewberry’s Gulf Coast Operations said, “The University of Louisiana System is unique in conducting a system-wide review of campus emergency plans. Through this analysis we were able to identify strengths in each of the eight campus plans. But more importantly, the work has resulted in the development of a strong blueprint to elevate the UL System to one of the best emergency plans in the country.”
Johnston’s remarks set the bar for today’s meeting.
“That’s our purpose – to prepare to our best ability. We will meet quarterly to share best practices, conduct professional development, and implement the recommendations of the Dewberry report,” said Robbie Robinson, UL System Internal Auditor who co-chairs the committee along with Devin Broome.
“Every campus in the state is looking at their emergency plans,” said Board of Regents Associate Commissioner for Information and Learning Technology Mike Abiatti during his remarks to the committee. “The University of Louisiana System is the only system that has contracted with an external evaluator to provide a standards-based plan and is the only system to bring the right people together to work collaboratively. You are the model.”
The University of Louisiana System has made emergency planning a priority. Last fall, campus communications directors trained in crisis communications and university presidents and police chiefs will participate in a similar training program this spring.
All eight universities are poised to begin implementation of the Firstcall Network, Inc., text messaging system. Firstcall is one of three vendors that made it through a rigorous Request for Proposals (RFP) process spearheaded by the Board of Regents who will fund the implementation of text messaging systems at state colleges and universities.
In addition to sending text messages to cell phones, the Firstcall system allows for text to voice features that will send messages to landlines, will interface with campus signage, and will be able to trigger an alarm.
The text messaging system complements existing emergency communications tools on campuses such as alarm systems, email, sirens, flashing lights, and electronic signage.
Click here for the Dewberry Report.
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