University of Washington Policy Directory

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*Formerly part of the University Handbook
Administrative Policy Statement
13.1



Emergency Management

(Approved by the Executive Director of Health Sciences Administration by authority of Executive Order No. 1, the Provost and Executive Vice President by authority of Executive Order No. 4, the Senior Vice President for Finance and Facilities by authority of Executive Order No. 5, the Chief Executive Officer, UW Medicine, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the School of Medicine by authority of Executive Order No. 6, the Vice President for Student Life by authority of Executive Order No. 10, the Vice President for External Affairs by authority of Executive Order No. 11, and the Vice President for UW Information Technology and Chief Information Officer by authority of Executive Order No. 63)



1.  Policy

In compliance with all local, state, and federal laws and regulations including, but not limited to, Chapter 38.52 RCW, "Emergency Management," Chapter 478–124 WAC, "General Conduct Code for the University of Washington," and WAC 296–24–567, "Employee Emergency Plans and Fire Prevention Plans," the University of Washington is required to safeguard the welfare of students, faculty, staff, and visitors, and to protect the University of Washington's essential functions of teaching, research, and public service during and after emergencies and disasters.

This policy also applies to large-scale special events and VIP activities that take place on University property that have the potential to impact the normal business operations of the institution.

2.  Definitions

An emergency is defined as an event, expected or unexpected, involving shortages of time and resources, that places life, property, or the environment in danger and that includes and goes beyond the regular 9–1–1 Police/Fire/Medical response for up to 24 hours.

A disaster is defined as an event, expected or unexpected, involving shortages of time and resources, that places life, property, or the environment in danger and that includes and goes beyond the regular 9–1–1 Police/Fire/Medical response beyond 24 hours. A disaster will often have a period of recovery following the incident that may return to a pre-incident state for the University or define a new definition of normal conditions for the University.

A large-scale special event is defined as an event that has the potential to impact the normal business operations of the institution and that generally requires emergency planning, with joint oversight and emergency plan approval by UW Emergency Management, and includes coordination with the following associated University departments and/or other University units or external partners as needed:

  • UW Police (UWPD)—law enforcement and security

  • UW Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S)— fire/biologic/chemical/radiation safety

  • Seattle Fire Department (SFD)—emergency medical response/fire suppression/hazardous materials spill response

  • UW Transportation Services—parking and traffic planning

  • Other organizations as deemed appropriate by UW Emergency Management (UWEM)

3.  Scope

This policy applies at all University locations including the UW Seattle, UW Bothell, and UW Tacoma campuses, jointly owned facilities, all other University owned property, University leased space, and temporary field operations and field trips that are under the control of University operations and staff.

The UW Bothell campus has special considerations related to co-location with Cascadia Community College and relationships with local jurisdictions and agencies that affect how this policy is implemented. Consult UW Bothell operating procedures and programs for implementation details.

The UW Tacoma campus has special considerations related to local jurisdictions and agencies. Consult UW Tacoma operating procedures and programs for implementation details.

4.  University Compliance Responsibilities

It is University policy that each vice president, vice chancellor, vice provost, dean, director, department chair, and supervisor is responsible for the health and safety performance in his or her respective units (see Executive Order No. 55). Emergency response planning and management responsibilities apply to all units as follows:

a.  Campuses, Organizational Units, and Departments

All University units involved in emergency response activities will either use or coordinate through UWEM units using the federal and state mandated Incident Command System (ICS) as put forth in RCW 38.52.070(1).

All University units are required to have in place a plan that includes procedures for evacuation in an emergency and for response to fires, bomb threats, chemical spills, earthquakes, etc. This is in compliance with the local fire code and is enforced by the authority of the recognized fire marshal of the jurisdiction in which the building is located.

All University units are required to have in place a plan that includes consideration for continuity of their critical operations as required by APS 13.2, "Ensuring Business, Academic, and Research Continuity (BARC)."

University units and student activity groups hosting large-scale special events on University property are required to notify the UWPD and UWEM at disaster@uw.edu not fewer than seven business days in advance of the event.

b.  UW Emergency Management (UWEM)

UWEM coordinates campus emergency planning, mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery efforts. Additionally, UWEM acts as the primary liaison between the University and outside government (city, county, state) emergency management agencies. UWEM will centralize all campus-wide emergency/disaster plans, training, and exercises.

UWEM maintains, tests, and ensures 24/7 reliability and accessibility to the University’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and the designated back-up EOCs.  In addition, UWEM maintains a 24/7 designated Duty Officer Program for after-hours contact by University units and external partners.

When requested and at the discretion of the UWEM director or a designee, UWEM may provide on-scene consultation, coordination, communication, and planning support through the UWEM Duty Officer for any University unit or external partner, or at the request of the University department coordinating the incident or situation.

In coordination with the UWPD, UWEM oversees and assists in emergency planning for large-scale campus special events and for visiting dignitaries that take place on University property, providing a process and staff support for the intake, review, and sharing of the special event information.

UWEM is also part of the UW Core Crisis Communications Committee.

c.  University Police (UWPD)

The UWPD is responsible for law enforcement, security, traffic control, access control, and search and rescue. This unit participates in damage assessment.

UWPD provides the University’s primary Incident Command role at Command Posts established at the UW Seattle campus in unified command with other University departments and external partners.

UWPD is also part of the UW Core Crisis Communications Committee.

d.  Facilities Services

Facilities Services manages and coordinates the prioritized response and exchange of operational information for all buildings, power and water utilities, roadways, and grounds and supports the SFD during normal operations. This unit participates in damage assessment and repair/restoration.

e.  Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S)

EH&S assesses health and safety hazards, advises on safe response procedures, provides training, and coordinates support to the SFD for hazardous materials incidents during normal operations (including chemical, biological, and radiological). EH&S also maintains and manages a hazardous materials clean-up contract with an outside contractor. In addition, EH&S participates in hazardous materials assessment of University activities and facilities.

EH&S is responsible for assisting departments develop fire, life safety, and emergency preparedness plans and associated training. This support is provided at the department and building level.

EH&S is responsible for notifying regulatory agencies in the event of a hazardous materials release to the environment, when a notifiable condition or communicable disease outbreak occurs, or when an on-the-job serious injury or death occurs in the University community.

During normal business hours, EH&S may provide a qualified representative of the Building and Fire Safety Section to serve as an on-scene liaison with the SFD and to provide consultation and support to UWPD and SFD.

After normal business hours, EH&S provides technical phone consultation through its afterhours staff on-call program.

EH&S serves as a member of the EOC and may provide a Safety Officer during activation of the University EOC or other on-scene command post.

EH&S in conjunction with Facilities Services, UW Information Technology, and other units provides consultation and planning for campus systems such as alarm, mass notification, and other systems that support emergency management.

f.  Student Life

The Office of the Vice President for Student Life manages all student services. This unit coordinates and provides housing and food services, including vital services for students and their families who live in University housing; information to families of students; and counseling services to students.

g.  Media Relations and Communications

The Office of Media Relations and Communications manages all official communication from the University, including internal messages to faculty, staff, students, etc.; media; and external communication. In an emergency, the Office of News and Information provides qualified Public Information Officers.

The Office of Media Relations and Communications is also part of the UW’s Core Crisis Communications Committee (with the Associate Vice President for Media Relations and Communications serving as the Chair of the Committee).

h.  UW Information Technology (UW-IT)

UW-IT manages central IT infrastructure and services, including the assessment and communication of operation status, coordination of emergency repair and recovery activities, and support of critical communication needs for campus emergency and disaster response and recovery activities.

UW-IT is also part of the UW’s Core Crisis Communications Committee.

i.  Office of Global Affairs

The Office of Global Affairs coordinates with the UWPD and UWEM as needed to provide support to those University students, staff, and faculty abroad who find themselves impacted by serious incidents or disaster.

The Global Emergency Manager role within the Office of Global Affairs is responsible for promoting safety and security best practices for University students, staff, and faculty traveling outside the United States on University-related activities and business.

The Global Emergency Manager also assists in situational awareness, damage assessment, and personnel accountability of University students, staff, and faculty during times of distress in other countries where University property and programs are active. The Global Emergency Manager provides reasonable assistance and coordination as needed to support life safety and personal security of University students, staff, and faculty in impacted countries.

j.  UW Medicine and Hall Health Center

UW Medicine, through its University-owned and managed medical centers and their associated clinics and affiliated programs, provides emergency medical care to local patient populations as well as University staff, faculty, and student populations. UW Medicine also serves as a local and regional medical resource for the general public during emergencies.

Hall Health Center provides medical support to the University and surrounding community, coordinating with the UW EOC to make available emergency medical care and trained medical staff. Hall Health Center also coordinates with UW Medicine to maximize use of medical resources and helps receive and deploy volunteer first aid staff.

k.  Health Sciences Administration (HSA)

Heath Sciences Administration (HSA) supports UWEM emergency responses through coordination across HSA reporting units, including EH&S, Health Sciences Academic Services and Facilities, Hall Health Center, and Health Sciences Risk Management.

HSA also coordinates emergency responses maintaining essential animal care activities across University operations. HSA works with the Office of Animal Welfare, the Department of Comparative Medicine, and the Washington National Primate Research Center to meet essential husbandry requirements for University animal populations as required by federal, state, and local regulations.

5.  University Compliance Procedures

a.  Planning

All University units shall have in place procedures for evacuation in an emergency and for response to fires, bomb threats, chemical spills, earthquakes, etc. Plans should include site-specific evacuation plans (including location of safety equipment, exit pathways and assembly areas); unit-specific plans to account for staff, students, and visitors; appropriate "shelter-in-place" protocols, and appropriate re-entry procedures. Refer to planning guidelines for Emergency Evacuation/Operations Plan on the Emergency Planning page of the EH&S website.

All major organizational units providing core operations services to the campus must establish a Unit Response Center (URC) to be activated during major emergencies for communication and response within the unit.

All University units shall have in place a plan that includes consideration for continuity of their critical operations as required by APS 13.2, "Ensuring Business, Academic, and Research Continuity (BARC)." Planning assistance is available through UWEM for the BARC program.

b.  Emergency Reporting and Response—Normal Operations

During normal operations, the UWPD coordinates and responds to police emergencies at the UW Seattle campus. UWPD also coordinates responses to fire and medical emergencies through the SFD. In addition, UWPD operates the after-hours switchboard for the International Emergency Phone line, to connect callers with Office of Global Affairs' staff who respond to international incidents. City of Bothell Police and Fire Departments provide emergency response at the UW Bothell campus and City of Tacoma Police and Fire Departments provide emergency response at the UW Tacoma campus. UWEM responds when needed to assist with on-scene coordination and planning, operating in support of the Incident Commander.

For emergencies at all University campuses, dial "911" from any campus phone or TTY; and any pay phone, off-campus phone, or cellular phone (Note: with a cellular phone at UW Seattle, it may be necessary to request to be transferred to the UWPD).

c.  Emergency Reporting and Response—Large Scale

During an emergency affecting the entire campus or region, normal reporting and response services may not be available. Coordinated and integrated campus-wide response to emergencies on the UW Seattle campus is assisted through the University's EOC using an Incident Command System (ICS) to support the management of hour-by-hour decisions during and after a major event. Emergency response operations at the UW Bothell and UW Tacoma campuses are managed locally with a communications link to the UW Seattle campus EOC. The UW Seattle EOC is structured and equipped to provide:

  • Direction and control assistance, as requested or required.

  • Communications with the President and administration, with other University departments and units, and with city, county, and state officials.

  • Coordination with other government agencies and recovery response resources.

  • Indication of the length and severity of the disaster.

  • On-scene assistance through the Duty Officer, when appropriate.

The UW Seattle EOC is supported by and connected to Unit Response Centers (URCs) located in the administrative headquarters of major organizational and operations units. URCs transmit emergency impact reports to the EOC, and in some cases, provide emergency response services and relay emergency information and instruction to their constituents.

6.  Additional Information

For additional information, contact UWEM:

  • Phone: 206–897–8000
  • Emergency 24/7 Duty Officer Phone: 206–765–7192
  • Emergency 24/7 Duty Officer Pager: 206–797–0176
  • Email: disaster@uw.edu

For international emergencies involving students, staff, and faculty abroad on UW study, business, and research, the Office of Global Affairs coordinates with UWPD:

  • International Emergency Phone: 206–632–0153

The following specific websites are also available:

October 1986; December 15, 2003; November 5, 2013.


For related information, see:

  • Executive Order No. 55, "Suspended Operation Policy"