UWEM Quarterly Newsletter: December 2009

New UWEM Website Look and Feel

Welcome to our “new-and-improved” quarterly newsletter! UWEM staff, working with our partners in Facilities Services (our parent organization) recently changed our website to allow for a number of exciting features. For the first time, all UWEM team members can make changes to the content and structure of our website ourselves “on-the-fly” without having to go through an external webmaster. Each UWEM staff member received training on a web development tool (called DRUPAL) and now have access to modify our site. Please keep your suggestions coming on how we can make improvements.

  • Steve Charvat, UWEM Director

The UW Loses a True Friend

On September 26th, the UW lost a wonderful man who was a huge supporter to the campus’ emergency preparedness and safety programs. Mr. Jon Organ passed away peacefully after a 9-month battle with cancer. Many of you may not have known Jon personally, but all of us likely have benefited from his tireless, behind-the-scenes support and advocacy for a safe and secure campus. Jon was a long-time member of both the UW’s U-wide Health and Safety Committee, a volunteer in the EOC during drills and activations, a member of the UW’s emergency planning committee and a supporter and friend of all of us here in UWEM. He was a kind and gentle man, a brilliant thinker and writer and artist who was kind and loved all living things, especially trees, crows and his dog Maggie Bear. We already miss you Jon. Rest in Peace.

  • UWEM Team

UW’s Special Event Mobile Operations Center (SEMOC) Gets Communication Improvements

The UW’s Special Event Mobile Operations Center (SEMOC) is a mobile operations and communications vehicle capable of providing support in the field or as an enhancement to established facilities such as UW Police or the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). As a recipient of one of our 2009 internal UW grants, the SEMOC is now enjoying very important and critical upgrades.

Implementation of wireless data equipment to provide point-to-point linkage with available networks nearby (UW or almost any other data network) and to provide wireless data capabilities within and adjacent to the vehicle. These new upgrades strengthens and makes more flexible the communication capabilities within the SEMOC and the University as a whole. UWEM is proud to be a part of the granting process in allowing SEMOC to enjoy these great upgrades. As a side note, the SEMOC vehicle was activated and ready for emergencies Nov 27-29 during the Apple Cup Came. We appreciated having this emergency tool and for those who work so diligently in having it at our disposal!!

  • Dede Hough, Fiscal Specialist

UWEM Training Website

A new resource for the University community is our new website: Training offered by UWEM. In the times of tight budgets what is more exciting than FREE education! Part of making the University a safer place is helping our community understand their risks and provide the tools to help them prepare. I have developed a series of courses that break down in detail steps to preparedness: 101 Know Your Hazard, 102 How to Build a Disaster Kit, 103 Who Depends on You, 104 Map Your Neighborhood (MYN). Each class is approximately an hour long, but can be tailored to meet the time and needs of your department.

UW Emergency Management is also your conduit to external (Federal) training. As a government employee we are eligible to participate in multiple FREE trainings across the country for emergency planners, responders and those with a role in disaster preparedness, response and recovery. Please check out our new website for more information.

  • Siri-Elizabeth McLean, Plans & Training Manager

FEMA in Spanish

We are happy to announce the launch of FEMA’s redesigned Spanish-language website-designed to support DHS’ mission of building a culture of readiness and resilience across the nation. This website has the latest news about what’s happening in your community and across the country including major warnings and information on how to find help and locate your loved ones if disaster strikes.

The redesigned Spanish-language website includes information on disaster preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation, featured in a user-friendly format for easier navigation. The website also provides general information about disasters, breaking news, and what to do before, during and after different types of emergencies.

In the event of a disaster, the public can also register for disaster assistance through http://www.disasterassistance.gov/espanol to search for loved ones displaced during emergencies through the National Emergency Family Registry and Locator systems-available in Spanish.

For more information, please visit FEMA’s homepage or FEMA “en espanol”.

  • Dede Hough, Fiscal Specialist

Business Continuity and H1N1

Business, Academic and Research continuity (BARC) planning take on a different challenge under H1N1 conditions than one would see for other types of disasters. With a pandemic outbreak, such as the H1N1 Swine Flu, there is no building or public infrastructure damage as we’d find with an earthquake. There’s no fires or floods and no regional power outages. Many of the common steps in BARC planning, such as having a secondary office location, backed up information for data protection or emergency sheltering plans, don’t really work for a pandemic event.

Infrastructure, such as power, water, gas and telecommunications may not be damaged, but may not be functioning at top efficiency if the work force that normally supports those services is reduced or unavailable. Supplies at stores may also become scarce as most retail and grocery stores rely on a “Just in Time” inventory practice to manage costs. Public services such as police, fire and EMS may also be delayed or become more selective in prioritizing which 9-1-1 calls they respond to as they struggle to meet daily service needs with reduced staff. Families may find it more difficult to manage the balancing between work and caring for loved ones, especially if schools and daycare centers are shut down.

The scenario of a pandemic outbreak can be daunting, but good news is that there are things we can do to prepare ourselves, our family and our workplace during a pandemic outbreak. Please visit our Business, Academic and Research Continuity (BARC) website to learn more.

  • Scott Preston, Business, Academic and Research Continuity Manager

Flu Kit Prep and Campus Vaccination Planning

The University of Washington distributed over 10,000 free influenza (flu) preparedness kits to UW residential students living on campus or in Greek system housing the week before classes started. These kits contained essential aids for prevention, immediate care and relief from flu symptoms: thermometer, Purell gel, Nuun tablets, Purell wipes, Acetaminophen, lozenges and a flu information sheet. Numerous students and staff volunteered their time to participate in the flu kits stuffing day.

During the first quarter of school there has been a steady number of H1N1 cases recorded. In an effort to assist the UW community the University is working with Public Heath – Seattle and King County to host vaccination clinics for our population. However, production of the H1N1 influenza vaccine has been far slower than expect and the UW along with other providers around the country are waiting anxiously for their supply of vaccine to arrive.

The University was able to obtain limited vaccine and so far have hosted two vaccination clinics on campus. As vaccine becomes available more vaccination clinics will be held on campus.

  • Siri-Elizabeth McLean, Plans & Training Manager

Howard Hanson Dam/Flooding Threat

The Howard Hansen Dam is municipal water supply and flood control dam that sits on the Green River-Duwamish River system, above South East Auburn. In early 2009, engineers from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) discovered leakage from a portion of the dam that is joined to a natural abutment. As the dam reaches about 1/3 full, the leakage increased. USACE has stated that they’ll have to increase the release rate from the dam as well as allow the release to flow longer to avoid structural failure on the dam. The increased flow rate may cause flooding in the Green River Valley, which contains the cities of Algona, Pacific, Auburn, Kent, Renton and Tukwila. The jurisdictions in those areas have been working to mitigate the impact of a potential flood scenario by placing sandbags and building temporary flood walls along the Green River. Experts estimate that after the completion of recent repairs, there is a 1 in 25 chance of a serious flood situation in the Green River Valley.

UW Emergency Management encourages all students, staff and faculty who live the in the potential flood region to make the necessary preparations to evacuate, if necessary and to review homeowner’s, renter’s and flood insurance policies to understand what coverage and liabilities exist. Also, developing a few extra commuter contingency plans for how to get the UW or get home from the UW would be prudent as well. For more information on the Howard Hansen Dam, please visit King County’s Regional Flood Preparedness website by clicking here

  • Scott Preston, Business, Academic and Research Continuity Manager

UW Partners with City of Seattle for Improved Winter Storm Responses

Over the past 4 months, various UW departments and units (lead by UWEM) have been working with the City of Seattle in providing detailed and technical input into their new Winter Storm Response Plans. Based on the experiences, mostly bad, from last winter’s seemingly continuous series of snow and ice storms, the City of Seattle has been working hard over the past year in revising both their plans and overall approach to winter storms. Some of the major changes being implemented this winter include more proactive pre-treatment of priority streets with chemical de-icers and salt, new equipment and communications, plows and training. UWEM provided input into the new priority snow routes to ensure access to the Seattle campus, Harborview Medical Center and the UW Medical Center. Click here for a copy of the full plan and to see the new priority snow plow routes.

  • Steve Charvat, UWEM Director