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UNH Updates Emergency Preparedness Procedures

By Lori Wright, Media Relations

UNH has updated its emergency response and preparedness procedures, and is asking the university community to familiarize itself with the new plan.

Detailed information regarding what to do in the event of an emergency is available on the new Emergency Preparedness Website at http://www.unh.edu/emergency/. The site provides specific information about how to address a bomb threat, fire, hazardous materials spill, inclement weather and medical emergency.

“Prior planning and preparedness is critical due to the nature of situations that occur at any time with little or no warning. This document outlines procedures to be followed by the campus community for responding to, and recovering from, a variety of emergency and disaster situations,” according to Brad Manning, director of environmental health and safety.

“While UNH has developed and implemented a campus Emergency Procedures Program, we had not developed a means of communicating this information to the campus community. The Emergency Preparedness website should bridge this communication gap,” Manning said.
Colleges and universities nationwide have increased their emergency preparedness efforts since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“One of the specific challenges in dealing with emergencies, in an academic environment, is that the execution of the emergency response goes counter to the normal consultative and collaborative nature of a university. During an emergency specific individuals have to be in charge and often times need to make immediate decisions that effect the university community. It is not only important to establish an organizational structure where these decisions can take place in an informed manner but for everyone in the university community to be aware of this potential dynamic,” said Bill Conk, coordinator of university emergency planning.

The more common emergencies that occur on campus include inclement weather (blizzards, ice storms and hurricanes), power outages and medical emergencies. Less common are hazardous material spills, bomb threats and fires.

Members of the university community should report all suspicious activity and criminal offenses to the university police. Call 911 during an emergency. “In an emergency, people should first take steps to protect themselves and keep themselves from becoming a victim. Second, they should notify emergency authorities of the emergency. Third, they should listen to emergency authorities and respond as directed,” Conk said.

All 911 calls are routed to the UNH Police Department through the UNH-Durham Communications Center. The center is staffed 24 hours a day, by eight full-time professional dispatchers. All full-time dispatchers are State Police Online Telecommunications System Certified and receive a variety of in-house and specialized training annually. The center serves as dispatch for UNH and the Town of Durham Police Departments; the Durham, Lee, Madbury and Barrington Fire Departments; and the Durham Ambulance Corps. After normal business hours, UNH Security, UNH Maintenance and Durham Public Works are reached by contacting the dispatch center.

Emergency call boxes are located at the center of university residential halls and in all major parking lots. Emergency blue phones also are located throughout the campus. “The UNH Police Department is committed to keeping the members of the campus community safe and has developed several safety links that provide information for crime prevention as well as general information about personal safety,” according to Manning.

The safety links can be found at http://www.unh.edu/upd/Information.html.

“An effective emergency response depends on informed campus communities, whose members are familiar with campus procedures and understand their personal responsibility for emergency preparedness and response,” Manning said.

University departments interested in conducting an emergency evacuation drill or receiving further training in emergency preparedness should contact the Office of Environmental Health and Safety at 2-4041.

 


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