Newsletter: April, 2009

Outlook on 2009-2011 Emergency Management Budget

Is should come as no surprise, that pending an unforeseen miracle or infusion of outside federal grants, some of the UW’s disaster and emergency management programs and activities will likely be pared-back over the next biennium (and perhaps longer). Based on the current nationwide and statewide economic forecasts and fiscal outlook, UWEM is well into the process of re-examining its level of services to the university community.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO OUR CUSTOMERS?

(1) We will continue to focus on our primary mission of providing training and planning support.

(2) Reduction in scope and frequency of campus-wide disaster drills and training sessions. Smaller and more targeted exercises will continue to support the UW’s mission.

(3) Reduction in printing and hard-copy materials to our customers. However, we will focus on providing more “self-serve” materials on our ever-expanding website.

(4) The Annual Internal UW Disaster Preparedness Grant program awards will be reduced by a percentage applied to all other budgets.

UWEM staff will continue to provide the top-notch level of services that we have in the past and will continue to pursue other non-UW sources of grant and contract funds to supplement and loss of state support to meet our primary mission. Thanks for your continued support and patience in this challenging time.

— Steve Charvat, UWEM Director

Internal UW Disaster Grants A Success

Our fourth year of awarding grants to departments who have applied for emergency funds is going strong and the selected departments are busy purchasing necessary items to keep the university going during times of major events. Just to give you two example of what some of these monies can do for a department and the campus as a whole, we’d like to share some of the important purchases that are being made. The University of Washington Medical Center requested and received a grant to purchase a water purification unit to provide clean and safe water to their patients and staff during a disaster. The medical center will take advantage of the nearby body of water we have available and purify this water to continue caring for their patients. Such an important endeavor!

The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (Earth & Space Sciences) also requested and received a grant to purchase three satellite phones to continue communications in case of an emergency. Following significant earthquakes, the PNSN produces a number of real time information products used by emergency mangers and the public. This will allow PNSN to maintain communication with State, Local, UW emergency mangers and their field crews in high mountain and wilderness areas.

We encourage all departments to apply for these grants that are available. Please go to our website at www.washington.edu/emergency and click on Disaster Grants for more information. Deadline for grant application is September 1st of each year.

— Dede Hough, Fiscal Specialist

Campus Disaster Strategic Plan Updated

UWEM has recently released the new and improved Multi-Year Strategic Plan (2009-2014). It is a complex process that requires coordination, cooperation and focused effort from the entire university and its many partners.

Throughout the last five years the UWEM staff have maintained a working document of notes and suggestions from post-emergency event evaluations, customer service surveys and exercise hot-washes for this next update. In January the UWEM team reviewed and revised the DRAFT plan and posted it for public comment and review. By February the final plan was complete.

The Strategic Plan is an important piece to the success of a disaster resistant university. It provides strategic direction for enhancing the Universitys capabilities to prevent and reduce vulnerabilities from natural, human caused and technological emergencies or disasters.

— Siri-Elizabeth McLean, Plans & Training Manager

Stimulus Package- Emergency Management Style!

All UW EOC (Emergency Operations Center), URC (Unit Response Center), other staff responsible for emergency preparedness, response, recovery or mitigation should take advantage of these great training opportunities.

Emergency Management Institute (Emmitsburg, MD) offers a wide range of courses including All Hazards Preparedness, Response, Recovery and Mitigation; Public Information; Exercise Design; Debris Management; and Hazard Mitigation classes. http://training.fema.gov/

The National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center (College Station, TX) is the perfect place to hone your Incident Command System (ICS) skills and knowledge through training and exercises. http://www.teex.org/ogt/

Energetic Materials Research and Training Center (Socorro, NM) is affectionately known as Bomb School. Participants learn how to recognize different kinds of bombs, know what to do and what not to do, as well as see the effects of detonated bombs. Most of the participants in this program are law enforcement or fire fighters, but anyone involved in Facilities Services, PEAT team, Building coordination, etc. could benefit from this class. http://www.emrtc.nmt.edu/training/

Remember, all these programs are FREE!

— Clarice Nakata-Hall, Special Projects Manager

Annual UW Seattle Campus Disaster Drill Coming

On Thursday April 30, 2009 UW Emergency Management will facilitate a tabletop exercise for the annual UW campus disaster drill. The exercise will involve a different type of disaster never tested before at the university. All UW Emergency Operations Center (EOC) responders, UW Crisis Communications Team members and Emergency Policy Council members are invited to participate in this drill.

We will focus on five objectives: 1) real-time notification and activation 2) incident command decision-making 3) shift-change and back-up logistics 4) integration with senior management and 5) adapting to the use of manual forms and record-keeping during disasters.

A key point regarding the drill is that it will NOT impact University operations on April 30th. Roads will not be closed, building alarms will not be activated and with the exception of some additional activity in the Bryant Building by the EOC responders, there will no disruptions to daily operations here on campus.

The drill is part of the UWs preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery emergency management program. It is a key part of the UW commitment to meeting our Vision: A nationally-recognized Disaster Resistant University.

— Siri-Elizabeth McLean, Plans & Training Manager

Planning for Essential Services Employees

It had been so long since the campus suspended operations that most employees and their managers didnt know how to respond to the situation and others werent even aware that suspended operations and inclement weather policies existed. Needless to say, the suspended operations announcements left many people scrambling for answers while others made their own decisions on the fly. Bottom line (as stated in the suspended operations policy), When operations are suspended, employees are not to report to work unless they have been identified earlier as essential.” So what does this mean for you and your department? If your department hasnt addressed this issue, this is a good time to begin planning. While snowstorms are probably behind us now, other emergencies and disasters could result in suspended operations. Here are a few suggestions to help you start talking and planning ahead.

  1. Check out the UW policies for suspended operations and inclement weather.
    Suspended Operations: http://www.washington.edu/admin/hr/polproc/susp-ops/index.html Inclement Weather: http://www.washington.edu/admin/hr/polproc/susp-ops/inclement-weather.html

  2. Are there tasks that are essential to the operations of campus or the department?

  3. Who, if anyone in your department, provides “essential services” that without, would severely impact your operations if left undone for a day/week/month?

  4. Can people telecommute? Can they connect remotely to their computer at work? (some jobs require on-site work that cannot be done via computer)

  5. How will you make sure people in your department will be notified of suspended operations?

For some departments, this will be an easy task. For others, these decisions may be more complicated. Whatever your situation may be, this will be a good step towards being better prepared.

— Clarice Nakata-Hall, Special Projects Manager

Adios to WebEOC

WebEOC is the automated tool used to track events, activities, and provide decision support in responding to major emergencies or disaster impacting the university. Currently, WebEOC is the statewide EOC standard used at the State’s EOC, all 39 counties in Washington State and the City of Seattle.

WebEOC was purchased in 2005 from a federal homeland security grant. The $60,000 grant covered the initial purchase of the software product and a server, but did not allow for ongoing support, upgrades or training.

While the EOC used this product for two EOC drills and we provided some basic training on its use, we are unable to cover the ongoing maintenance and operations of this tool.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE UW? We will be reverting back to our prior system of manual record-keeping. Status boards, message forms, and displays will again be paper-based. We are also investigating the use of alternate, less-expensive open-source software programs as another option.

UWEM and UW Technology will also investigate other “open-source” software programs that may eventually replace the loss of the WebEOC program. We are hopeful that we can locate a less-expensive and easier-to-use system in our EOC setting.

— Steve Charvat, UWEM Director

Disaster Recovery Planning

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the National Endowment for Financial Education have developed this very handy resource booklet for anyone who may feel overwhelmed by the financial issues surrounding a disaster. In it, you’ll find suggestions on steps to take and what to do in the initial weeks and months. Specifically the following topics are covered:

Restoring Household Stability Managing an Injury or Disability Financial Decisions After a Death Stabilizing Your Finances Lawsuits and Other Settlements Looking Ahead Planning Reminders

There is so much valuable information in such a small booklet. To access this booklet, please go to www.cpa2biz.com and type in Disaster Recovery: A Guide to Financial Issues in the keyword search area.

— Dede Hough, Fiscal Specialist

The Partnerships are Growing!

The University of Washington is a very large institution and is often compared to a “city within-a-city”. But all too often in a large organization silos tend to develop. Departments begin to operate on their own forgetting they are actually part of a greater whole. This might work for some departments who are small and do not have a large impact to the University; however when it comes to the safety of the entire University Community we cannot afford to continue working in silos.

The roles and responsibilities of UW Emergency Management, Environmental Health and Safety, and the UW Police Department overlap in many areas thus create some confusion among faculty, students and staff. No one wants to hear three different messages from three different departments nor do they have the time. No longer will this be the case.

For the past few months Siri McLean (UWEM), Darren Branum (EH&S) and Warren Bresko (UWPD) have been building and strengthening a partnership between their departments. Each of these individuals is responsible for the outreach their department provides on campus. What is being created is one unified front for preparedness, safety and security outreach; the idea being a one stop shop of information. So far the three have partnered in setting up information booths at various locations around campus to talk with faculty, students and staff.

Often when the outreach us done separately questions come up that one cannot answer and the inquiring minds are sent to find the information somewhere else. Now with all three departments represented at once and information can be provided together. These outreach efforts are still new and developing, but have great potential for the University community.

Now the trick is coming up with a catchy name or phrase for this partnership. How about a little contest? An example of something that was already used was Shake & Bake. This was the phrase the public educators in emergency preparedness and fire safety at City of Bellevue used many years ago. Submit your ideas to sirim@u.washington.edu and the person we select who comes up with the best name wins a 72hr Emergency Kit.

— Siri-Elizabeth McLean, Plans & Training Manager

SchoolReport.org A New FREE Online Resource!

A service of the Puget Sound Educational Service, SchoolReport.org provides up-to-the-minute postings on their website.

This free service is available to anyone interested in seeing the status of their western Washington K-12 school district, college or private school. This service complements the information provided to local radio and TV stations. Go to www.SchoolReport.org for more information.

Anyone can sign Up for Email Alerts. You can subscribe to receive direct notification from your school via email or text/mobile Alerts directly to your text-enabled cell phone or pager. Contact your carrier for more information on your phone’s email address.

— Steve Charvat, UWEM Director