Though largely unseen by the greater campus community, the UW’s three campuses and UW Medicine undertake continuous planning and training for how to react, operate and recover if disaster — natural, structural or human-prompted — strikes. Much of this work is defined by federal and state policies and reflected in the Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan. Both the UW’s Internal Audit unit and Enterprise Risk Management team are in the midst of reviewing the UW’s emergency management plans and structures. Coupled with the move of the Seattle-based Emergency Management team into a new division focused on campus community safety, now is an ideal time to assess existing plans and delegations of authorities in case quick decisions are necessary.
Before work on the new Campus Community Safety Division began, the UW had an Emergency Readiness Committee. Members met regularly to share information and coordinate activities. That group was recently sunsetted and, starting this summer, the Emergency Management Planning Committee will start meeting. This group will be comprised of decision-makers from key units across the University. A separate staff-level group will be convened for ongoing information sharing and coordination.
Considerations around how the UW prepares for emergencies have helped inform some of the duties and responsibilities of the new Vice President for Campus Community Safety. When it comes time to search for that person, the job duties will include disaster response, operations and recovery.
Additionally, our work on a proposed joint project with students to assess the potential to provide unarmed alternative responders for calls about people in acute mental health crisis continues to progress. We are currently waiting to hear about funding for the first phase – a review of calls for help, what services exist for the Seattle campus and the University District currently, and what callers say they need in terms of services. Special thanks to the City of Seattle Mayor’s Office and the newly established City of Seattle Community Safety and Communications Center for sharing information about their efforts to screen 911 calls for those that could better be answered by skilled intervention teams.
Thank yous: We are grateful to the following individuals and groups for their time in April.
- UW Medicine staff regarding Montlake bus stop safety
- Seattle Mayor’s advisor for public safety
- Director of the new City of Seattle Community Safety and Communications Center
- Faculty Council on Race, Equity & Justice
- Tri-Campus Advisory Board
- Student Advisory Board for the Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity