Karla Carney-Hall, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
Chair, Emergency Response Team
Our plan for every emergency is structured in this way:
1. Our first priority is to make sure our students, faculty and members of our staff are safe and accounted for. Every building on our campus has a building coordinator and backup coordinator. These staff members receive information from the Emergency Response Team (ERT) via IWU Alert, web, email and mass phone announcements. For academic representatives, they know which classes should be meeting in their buildings every hour. Class rosters are available electronically and can be accessed to define who should be present in the building. For students, every floor has a Resident Assistant who knows his/her residents well enough to understand their patterns of movement (i.e. student A is gone every morning for student teaching, student B is on the tennis team and is at a tournament, etc.). Likewise, coordinators of administrative buildings account for those who work in their areas by use of building roster. We rely on the information from our staff to account for every member of our community.
2. While we have a security department, its members are not police officers and are not armed. The Bloomington Police Department has jurisdiction for our campus and we maintain a strong relationship with that department. In an emergency, while we are taking care of our students, faculty and staff, they are taking care of the situation of concern and communicating to us through our Director of Security. In most situations, we are going to follow the directives given by the BPD or other law enforcement and public safety officials brought in to deal with the emergency.
3. Simultaneously, our University Communications staff members work on getting the facts and directives out to our constituencies. This happens via the Internet, intranet and building representatives.
4. The next phase of the emergency plan is determined by the needs of our campus. For example, if there is a fire, we will move the affected group to the Memorial Center, Hansen Center or Shirk Center. We start working on needs based on Maslow’s hierarchy - if people need shelter, we arrange for that; if people need to be fed, we feed them; if they are not wearing enough clothing, we get them some clothing (perhaps this happened in the middle of the night).
5. We help students and others make contact with their families. They may have their cell phones with them, but if not, we will set up phone banks so that families will know that their son/daughter is safe. We will also set up a contact number for families. This contact number will be staffed with university personnel who will be able to answer questions as we have information.
6. We set up communication points for students. Usually communication points occur two or three times daily so the members of our campus know when information will be available and where they can get it. This is also a time when questions or concerns can be raised so that we can hear and respond to the needs of the campus.
7. We begin the process of offering counseling and emotional support for those in crisis. This is a long process that may take the efforts of our community. The Director of our Counseling Center maintains very strong ties with the community and at Illinois State University and will call on other professionals for assistance.
8. Again, we assess needs and adapt to meet them. I guarantee that no two crises are alike and any good intervention plan has some strong scaffolding and lots of flexibility based on the needs of the community.
Additionally, even with emergency response plans, every university should have well-developed emergency PREVENTION plans. Here is how we work to prevent emergencies on our campus:
1. We work hard to get to know our students and are hopefully able to identify changes in their behaviors.
2. We have an Emergency Consultation Team (consisting of Student Affairs Staff members) on duty every day of the year to respond to students in crisis or something that happens on campus. Our Security Department is also staffed every day of the year.
3. All of the residence halls are locked 24-hours per day and accessed by those who live in the hall via a key (Munsell hall is piloting a card swipe system). We, like every other campus, have a problem with "tailgating" - a process by which someone follows another into a building after the first person uses his/her key. Campaigns to help student understand the dangers of tailgating and allowing others access to buildings without the use of their own keys occur at new student orientation and floors meetings in the fall. Signs are also posted to remind students not to allow non-residents into their buildings.
4. Emergency Consultation Team meets weekly to talk about students of concern. That might be a student who has experienced a problem or death in his/her family or it might be a student who is exhibiting signs of stress. We create a plan or confirm that the student is following through with a plan for support and counseling. Because we have professional staff members who specialize in student development, we understand student rhythm and common times of stress. In heavy stress times, we push programs out to students in order to raise their awareness (i.e. beginning of the semester transition, prior to break periods, prior to mid-term and final examinations, around Valentine's day, before graduation, etc.).
5. Our faculty members are great partners in letting us know when they see changes in our students. They call the Dean of Students office and alert the Associate Dean or Dean about their concerns. It is our policy to meet with the student of concern within 24-hours of the call. That way, we are able to get the student connected to the resources s/he needs.
6. Finally, we have professional residence directors trained in student development and crisis management living in apartments on the first floor of our residence halls. They are very accessible to students and, in most cases, they know their students well. In prevention and response, they are key in communicating with and about their residents.
Members of the Emergency Response Team include:
Members of the Emergency Consultation Team include:
Please refer your questions, concerns or ideas to Karla Carney-Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org or (309)556-3111.