Newsletter: April, 2008

Getting Back to to the Basics

When Scott Preston left UWEM on March 14th to become the first Emergency Manager for the Covington Water District, the UW lost a key emergency management resource. Scott was nationally-recognized for his development of both the UW Campus Emergency Response Team (CERT) system and founding our business continuity program. Both programs have been suspended until a permanent funding solution can be identified and programs supported.

The sole remaining full-time emergency management staff member in Facilities Services (the new home for UWEM) Steve Charvat will continue to provide the basic services of: campus-wide emergency planning, ad-hoc training and FEMA/DHS grants management for the Seattle campus.

— Steve Charvat, Facilities Services

Sound Shake ‘08 Rattles the UW

A major earthquake struck Seattle and Western Washington last month and most people never realized it! But over 200 dedicated UW staffers did their best to protect the campus and help us recover from a (simulated) 6.7 magnitude earthquake on March 5th. Dubbed SOUND SHAKE ‘08, this regional disaster exercise was developed to prepare government, schools, companies and communities in dealing with the after-effects of a major earthquake on the Seattle Fault.

The UW opened it’s EOC command center and worked for nearly 7 hours in dealing with a variety of critical life-and-death issues. In addition to the UW Command Center being activated, we also activated 4 (of 8) Campus Mass Assembly Areas. Both UW Medical Center and Harborview also participated in the drill.

Overall, the drill provided a number of valuable lessons learned. A full evaluation and after action review and report are now available online. Click on the link for more information or go to our UWEM homepage.

— Steve Charvat, Facilities Services

UW 2008 Disaster Plan Completed

The UWs disaster response and recovery plan underwent a full public review and update from January March 2008. Over 60 department, unit and public comments were received from stakeholders during the open comment period. Nearly all the comments, corrections, suggestions and modifications are included in the attached April 2008 version of the UW Emergency Response Management Plan, or ERMP for short. Over 400 total changes were made from the previous version. This core University document represents the primary disaster planning document for the UW.

The old saying that the planning process is more important than the actual plan still holds true. Discussions between participants, validation during the March 5, 2008 Sound Shake exercise and continual changes to the UWs management structures provided valuable input into the attached Plan.

The following represent the major changes from the 2006 version:

New signatures and approvals (Sr. Vice President and Associate Vice President for Facilities Services on the Promulgation and Foreword pages )

More graphics, charts, color elements and better use of white space to enhance the documents readability and visual presentation

Changes in authorities related to EOC direction and management (i.e, AVP for Facilities Services now serves as the EOC Director and UWEM Director as the EOC Planning Section Chief)

Addition of 3 new Annexes:  UW Crisis Communications Plan, UW Pandemic Flu Guidance/Plan and Seattle Campus Mass Assembly Areas

An Expanded Acronym List

Clearer, more concise position checklists to more accurately reflect real-world emergency jobs and responsibilities

The 2008 ERMP will continue to be a work-in-progress due to constantly changing and dynamic environment of the University. Therefore, readers and plan holders should recognize the need to provide ongoing changes and corrections to Facilities Services, which now acts as the official record keeper of all modifications to the plan. Only drills and real-life events will validate the success of our efforts.

Thank you for your support and keeping the UW one of the nations most disaster resilient universities!

— Steve Charvat, Facilities Services

UWEM Receives Grant to Strengthen Padelford Garage

Facilities Services (via UWEM), received formal notice on March 25, 2008, that the UW received a $620,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to seismically strengthhen the Padelford Garage and pedestrian walkway.

After a 2-year proposal, application and review cycle, the UW is about ready to begin to upgrade this critical university structure. The Padelford Garage was identified in the UW’s Hazard Identification and Vulnerability Analysis (HIVA) as one of the UW structures most susceptible to earthquake damage, especially due to landslides.

Construction and renovation activities will begin as soon as the formal contract is signed. Capital Project in conjunction with UW Parking Services, will be the UW’s project managers, with UWEM/Facilities Services (aka Steve Charvat) acting as the (Principal Investigator) for the grant. This grant marks a milestone for the UW since the establishment of the Emergency Management Office: over $4 million in grants to support and protect the university against natural and human-caused hazards and disasters!

— Steve Charvat, Facilities Services

A Different Kind of EM Website I Strongly Recommend

One of the best online sources for what’s new and interesting in the area of emergency management, crisis communications, homeland security and business continuity is the new Disaster Zone website/blog.

The website can be found at: http://www.disaster-zone.com/

This free self-subscription service is one of the best peer blogs out there. Join hundreds of your fellow disaster “Groupies” in learning what’s different, new and yes, even controversial in the growing field of emergency management.

— Steve Charvat, Facilities Services