Newsletter: January, 2008

Get Ready to Rock-n-Roll This Year

On Wednesday, March 5th, the UW will join thousands of other state, county, local, business, K-12 schools and other organizations by participating in the regional disaster response and recovery exercise called “Sound Shake ‘08”. The UW will open its Emergency Operations Center for 8-hours, and both UW Medical Center and Harborview will activate their disaster response centers. The focus of this regional exercise will be on a catastrophic earthquake on the Seattle Fault. The UW will simulate a number of events and crises that will directly impact the UW system. We will be testing our ability to gather damage and needs assessment, provide timely crisis information to our campus residents and develop a simplified disaster decision-making system. Stay tuned!!

— Steve Charvat, UWEM Director

UW Moves its Emergency Operations Center

Uneven floors, leaky ceilings, lack of reliable power and ventilation, vulnerable communications and being located in a 100+ year old boat repair facility does not seem like a logical place for a World-Class Research University to locate is Emergency Operations Center — but this is exactly where the UW had its disaster command and control center located for over 20 years. After decades of being located in the Bryant Building (which many may not realize is built 1/3 over water in Portage Bay), the EOC will be moving to the new UW Tower complex later this year. Slated to be co-located with the Computing and Communications Department in the “C-Building”, the new UW EOC will represent a huge improvement in the university’s ability to effectively (and reliably) respond to all hazards, crises and disasters — both large and small.

— Steven Charvat, UWEM Director

UW Rolls out New Campus Alert System

The UW recently implemented a system called UW Alert that sends text messages to subscribers’ telephones and text-enabled devices in case of a major crisis, emergency or disaster impacting the UW system (including Bothell, Tacoma and other off-campus sites).

UW Alert was developed as an extension of the newly-drafter Crisis Communication Plan and is just one tool of many items in the toolbox for emergency management to relay critical information to the UW campuses. It is available to all students, faculty, and staff.

To sign up for UW alert, visit the UW Emergency Management homepage at www.washington.edu/ and click on “UW Alert” icon to subscribe. It only takes a few minutes to sign up and it will provide critical information in times of disaster. UW Alert is a voluntary system. All information will be kept confidential and you can always unsubscribe.

— Dede Hough, Fiscal Specialist

UW-CERT 2007 Activities

Another year complete and UW-CERT is as busy as ever. During 2007, we brought our numbers of CERT-trained employees to 300 or about 42 CERT teams. We spent more than 600 hours supporting emergency operations for real-world incidents and special events. UW-CERT assisted with life-safety emergencies at Commencement and during the 2007 Husky Football Season, including the Apple Cup. CERT was also on scene at the tragic shooting that took place in Gould Hall in April. CERT volunteers continue to donate their own time to improve the quality of their training and skills. CERT had a number of people at the 2007 NW CERT Expo and did a fine job in representing the UW during the many drills and exercises held at that event. A few members of CERT also attending additional training at the King County Search and Rescue Academies in the Spring and Fall to take advantage of the training offered there. The future looks bright for the UW-CERT team in 2008. We’ll have 3 basic training academies. We’ll be part of the SoundShake ‘08 drill and will be participating in Commencement, Husky Football 2008 and the NW CERT Expo as well. We expect our program to continue to grow and mature; always focusing on providing the best service we can to the public and the student, staff and faculty of the University. Our next training is set for May (exact date, TBD). If you are interested, please e-mail us at disaster@u.washington.edu.

— Scott Preston, CERT Coordinator

Ready for Winter

Winter storm brewing… Emergency kit ready? Yes, three days, three ways!

— Clarice Hall, UWEM

Prevention and Preservation: Best Practices in Business Continuity

The old clich “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is a truism in the business continuity world. Generally speaking, 1 dollar spent in prevention/protection will save 7 dollars in having to replace or recover a critical asset or resource. This is not a new concept. Many people recognize that brushing one’s teeth is vastly preferable to the time and expense of several trips to the dentist. Simple maintenance of the car can save thousands in repair bills later on. Many people recognize the value of such efforts, but fail to actually apply the same common sense to their workplace or home preparedness. A good rule of thumb is “If it’s important, protect it”. Once again, nothing new in the concept, just a general public failure to apply it. Most folks have good intentions to prepare, but allow themselves to get distracted from actual work of preparation or worse; don’t really believe preparation is important, because disaster always happens to someone else. Well, the reality is that we are all “someone else” to everybody else. We are likely to have disasters in our lives, whether at work or at home. The best efforts we can make to minimize the impact of the disaster and maximize our available options after the disaster is to be prepared. There are 5 things you can do today to improve your level of preparedness: 1- Have a 72 hour (or better) kit at work, in the car (or your commuter’s bag) and at home. 2- Develop your communication plan with those who are important to you. 3- Check your insurance (whether it be homeowners or renters). 4- Get some training, such as first aid or CERT). 5- Mitigate potential hazards at home and at work. This will make you safer and will minimize the potential for loss.

There are many, many more things that can be done for your preparedness that UW Emergency Management can help you with. We have a formal business continuity management training and program initiation process that we are happy to come and deliver. Just contact us at disaster@u.washington.edu

— Scott Preston, UW Business Continuity Manager