UW Emergency Management

UW Emergency Management

UW Emergency Management (UWEM) is one of eight Facilities Services departments.  We provide technical and custom services to the entire institution, including individual and group training, orientations, consultative sessions, seminars and orientation materials as they relate to major campus crises, disasters and major emergency incidents.  With input from our stakeholders, we facilitate the development and implementation of institution-wide, department and individual protection programs and projects that promote disaster resilience, planning, training, mitigation, response, prevention and recovery for all-hazards.

  • UWEM hosts a week of trainings

    April 18, 2018

    Last week on Tuesday, April 10tth and Wednesday, April 11th at the UW Facilities Services Training Center two classes participated in the Incident Command System (ICS) Combo Course. The audience for these training we20180418_113044re members of Unit Response Centers (URCs), Emergency Operations Center (EOC) responders, and members of the Pre-entry Assessment Team (PEAT), Rapid Assessment Team (RAT), post-earthquake building safety evaluation team (ACT-20 teams). In both courses, everyone learned what is the Incident Command System and why the University of Washington is required to use it to manage all incidents and planned events on campus.20180418_112500

    During the course, the participants worked in small groups to plan an event using the ICS terms, roles, and responsibilities they learned. Each group developed an organizational chart, talked through the roles and functions of what a planned event needed to be successful. The small groups in each class developed plans to host a cat fashion show, music festival, fireworks show, and high school science fair. The in-person facilitated course allows people to ask questions of the instructors who are subject matter experts in the field of emergency management and other first responder agencies. We had instructors from WA-Tech, City of Seattle Emergency Management, City of Redmond, and our own UWEM Training Manager.

    Instructor Class

    UWEM also hosted a FEMA Instructor Workshop over the weekend of April 13-15 at the Facilities Services Training Center, The National Center for Biomedical Research and Training (NCBRT) delivered the three-day training with great instructors. Many of the instructors were from the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center (NDPTC) who also have delivered training here at UW.


    Last week was a wonderful week of training. UWEM will be hosting another set of Incident Command System (ICS) courses later in the fall, for more information about training opportunities contact Eli King Plans, Training, Exercise, & EOC Ops Manager eliking@uw.edu 206-897-188.

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  • UW Senior Leadership Test Recovery Plans

    April 16, 2018

    UWEM Tabletop Exercise Image

    Participants discussed how they would return their own units to operations, and shared information with colleagues about their unit dependencies.


    On April 5, the senior leadership of UW Finance and Administration departments gathered at the Facilities Training Center to discuss how to restore operations on campus that had been interrupted two-weeks prior by a severe earthquake. At least, that was the scenario of the surprise tabletop exercise hosted by the office of the Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration. UW Emergency Management developed the exercise to give the 28 participants time to test plans, discuss interdependencies, and practice the decision making that will be key to restoring campus operations after a major business disruption.

    The Exercise

    Invitations had gone out only a week before--a request from the EVP asking for attendance at a meeting to discuss operations. As participants filled the room, it was clear from the meal-ready-to-eat (MRE) at each seat that this was more then a meeting. After brief introductions, UWEM's Business, Academic and Research Continuity (BARC) Manager Megan Levy took her place at the head of the room. "As you know, the Seattle area experienced an earthquake two weeks ago on March 22," she began. This exercise explored recovery two weeks after a 5.5 magnitude Seattle fault earthquake shook Western Washington. The fictionalized earthquake and its impacts provided obstacles and issues for consideration as groups discussed campus recovery plans. The participants, representing a range of different departments and units participated in facilitated discussions, focused on the continuity of operations piece of recovery--the time between response and a return to normal. Though the exercise was a surprise, they drew on their wealth of knowledge about their teams and the University, and were allowed to use any of the the technology or resources they had with them.


    What next?

    In an effort to plan for response to and recovery from disasters of all kinds, units at the University of Washington exercise their continuity of operations plans every other year. Participants of this exercise will take their "ah-ha" moments, decisions, and recognized gaps from the exercise, and use them to revise and refine their plans. With the support the UWEM Business, Academic, and Research Continuity program, units U-wide are working continuity of operations planning into daily operations.

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  • Doug Gallucci elected as 2018 ERC Chair

    March 23, 2018

    Photograph of Mr. Doug Gallucci, chair of the 2018 Emergency Readiness CommitteeMr. Doug Gallucci, Assistant Director of the UW's Environmental Health and Safety Department, was elected as the first Chair of the university's Emergency Readiness Committee on March 1, 2018.  With a unanimous vote, Doug will assume the leadership role of the UW's committee that provides guidance and leadership for the university's disaster resilience programs and activities.  Doug has worked at the UW for over 25 years and is responsible for the Environmental Programs section that oversees the management of Hazardous Waste, University owned Contaminated Sites, Dangerous Goods Shipping, Permitting for Air, Storm Water and Industrial Discharge. Doug also organized and leads the UW’s Pre-Entry Assessment Team (PEAT). PEAT is a specialized HazMat response team that would provide rapid assessment to University buildings after a seismic event. Prior to working at the UW he worked in both Manufacturing and R&D at a biotechnology firm that produced viral diagnostics kits and supplies.  Please help us in welcoming Doug to this important role as he helps shape the future of the university's all-hazards emergency planning, mitigation, response and recovery efforts.

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  • Build your Husky Ready Plan in a Year: Month 3

    March 8, 2018

    This post is part of a 2018 series breaking the process of business continuity planning for University of Washington departments into monthly tasks to help build a plan in a year.

    This month we start the process of identifying your unit's critical functions. This has been split into a three month process because it makes up the bulk of your continuity planning, it will be the most taxing, and it will likely require checking in with co-workers and others on your team.

    The way we have set up this process, you identify all your critical functions and name them, then you come back next month to consider dependencies and how to cope, and then you return the following month with fresh eyes (and perhaps key information from others on your team) to think about actions you can take to mitigate risks to your critical functions.

    TIP: Not sure what makes a "good" critical function? Data! The more information you can include, the more useful it will be for you when you have to use your plan because you will understand better which risks you're trying to avoid and what is at stake. There are many opportunities in this system to do the bare minimum, but the more you put into it, the more you can take out of it. This is a long-term process, with a review every year; if you don't have the knowledge or capacity to go in depth this time, make that a goal for next year!

    This method has you working on multiple critical functions simultaneously, with the idea that there will be dependencies and solutions shared by multiple functions. If you would prefer to do one critical function at a time, focus on only a single critical function this month and next, then transition into working on your other critical functions for months two and three of the critical function section.

    Note: timing in this section may vary depending on how many critical functions exist in your organization.

    First, what is a critical function?

    Simply put: it is the work you do every day; the work you will want to return to after a major disruption. The system has you assign a level of criticality to each function. This helps you to prioritize your critical functions, so you know what to tackle first for recovery.

    Is everything you do a critical function? Probably not! Plan writers may take two approaches with non-critical unit functions. They may omit them from the plan, or they may include them in the plan but list them as deferrable. Why would you do the work just to call it deferrable? Because eventually you will want to return operations to 100% normal and doing planning and decision making ahead of time will make this easier.

    Month 3: Identifying your Critical Functions

    Total estimated time: 6 Hours

    Step 1 -- Identifying and prioritizing your responsibilities (1 hour)

    • Start by just making a list of everything your unit does. What are your key responsibilities? What do you have to do to meet your mission? What things do you do daily? Weekly? Monthly? Annually? Capture as many of these as possible. Review your list--are there functions you do to support items on this list that are not already? Add these.
    • Now let's measure criticality. Below we list each of the measures and the system definition. But you are welcome to assign as makes sense for YOUR unit. You may not have anything that would be considered a life safety issue, but you may have processes that if not restored within 24-hours present major financial or reputational risk.
    • Before you assign criticality, navigate Husky Ready to the pages where you will input this information. Better to do the work in the system then have to duplicate it later.
      • Under "Critical Functions" select "Manage Critical Functions."
      • In the right side bar, select "edit page" if not already in edit mode.
      • At the top of the page, select "add critical function."
      • Name the function--something short but easy to understand. You will have the opportunity to add further description later.
      • Assign a level of criticality:
        • Critical 1: must be continued at normal or increased service load. Cannot pause. Necessary to life, health, security. Think functions that cannot stop, not for a short while
        • Critical 2: must be continued if at all possible, perhaps in reduced mode. Pausing completely will have grave consequences. Think functions that can pause for a short time (12-72 hours) but must resume as quickly as possible.
        • Critical 3: may pause if forced to do so, but must resume in 30 days or sooner.
        • Deferrable: may pause; resume when conditions permit.
          • As noted above, you may choose to omit deferrable tasks from your plan
      • Do this for all items on your list you wish to include in your plan
    TIP: Would it help to see a completed plan in the system? Email our BARC manager Megan Levy and ask for view permissions to a completed plan.

    Step 2 -- Describe. That. Function! (4 hours)

    • First a reminder: Always "save" using the button in your right navigation bar before leaving a page!
    • Now that you have populated your critical functions, you will see them in your left navigation bar. Click on the first function, and see additional options drop down. Select "description"
      • Provide a description of the critical function. Make this descriptive enough that someone who does not perform this function regularly or at all can understand the purpose and process of the function.
      • Identify the people responsible for this function. This can be the single person who has ownership of the program, or everyone who works on it. Just remember--everyone named in the plan should read and buy off on their portion of the plan. When you're trying to recover from an event, you don't want anyone to be surprised that they are responsible for part of the plan
    • Now select "peak periods"
      • Are there months where the workload for this function is higher than normal? Or months where a delay in the function might causes greater harm then if it happened during the slow season?
      • Do your peak periods not fall in specific months, but a specific day, like the 10th of every month? Note this in the description
      • Include a explanation of your peak periods in the description box. It may seem unnecessary, but remember, you may not be the one who is there to implement the plan. The person using the plan should understand the intention behind what is included in it.
    • Identify the consequences under "consequences"
      • If you have already filled out the consequences for another critical function that apply to this function as well, you can quick populate by selecting the critical function from which you want to borrow from the drop-down menu and clicking "populate consequences"
      • Otherwise, review the list of potential consequences to short, medium, and long-term outages to this critical function. Use the check box to indicate those areas where there is a risk. Wherever you can, provide details on the potential reputation, financial, life safety or other risks.
    • Proceed through the steps again from the top for each of your critical functions

    Step 3 -- Action Items (1 hour)

    • In this step you will create action items to address any gaps or uncertainties you had as you worked through the previous three steps. Some possible questions/actions you might pursue:
      • Are there potential opportunities for cross-training? If a function is critical, but only one person knows how to do it, this is a significant risk
      • Do you work with other teams to complete this work? We will look more at dependencies next month, but this is a good time to start thinking about the potential of another department or team to take on this work temporarily in the event a disaster disrupts your unit but not others are the university.
      • Still not sure you know everything you need to about your business or critical functions? Maybe it's time to set up a meeting for everyone in your unit, or individually with team members to get a better sense of the critical functions of the organization?
      • Are there any forms, documents you need to perform this critical function. Upload them if you have them available under "documents." Otherwise, create an action item directing you to compile or create needed documentation.

    Remember, we will be returning to critical functions over the next two months, and this plan is an ever evolving, living document. Don't let the complexity of what is being asked stop you. Jot down what seems right, and move on. You will have the opportunity through this process to review, edit, perform gut checks, and exercise the plan with your team. Don't stop because you don't think it's perfect. Don't let be perfect be the enemy of good.


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  • How are we doing: January 2018 BARC Report

    February 21, 2018

    After a year of hurricanes, flooding, and earthquakes that elevated the awareness and concern about natural disasters and returning to business in the minds of the UW community, people have asked us "how are we doing?" We had a sense that there was a lot of room for improvement, but we didn't have the hard numbers. Now we do!

    As of January 2018, we have finished compiling data on the Business, Academic and Research Continuity program to help us better identify how we're doing, prioritize our continuity planning, and help leadership better understand how the University is doing enterprise-wide. We will dive into the overall numbers in different ways each month as we work toward helping every single department at the UW Seattle, UW Tacoma, UW Bothell, and UW Medicine to create continuity of operations plans.


    Data below was compiled on February 8, 2018 and reflects the status of the program at the end of  January. What do we see? That there is a lot of room to improve! Let's start by looking at the hard numbers.

    First, a note on departments

    We have identified 702 needed plans. This number may shift as we work through the process. It may grow as departments recognize the need for more individualized plans--for example, the power plant at the University is in a facilities services department, but has specialized needs that justify it having its own plan. Other teams may find that the overall responsibilities they are trying to maintain do not require as individualized a plan as their organization chart might indicate.

    Our current status

    The chart below represents the U-wide status of department continuity of operations planning. For a department to complete a plan they must 1) start a plan, 2) update that plan annually, and 3) exercise that plan every other year with UWEM. The first version of the plan is also reviewed by UWEM and comments provided. Departments can request this review at any time.

    In future months we will dive into other data, and tracking improvement, but this is our baseline. At this time, 21% of departments have a plan. These plans may not be complete, and in fact only 32% of the plans that have been started have been updated in the past year, but the department has started the process, and that's a good sign that awareness to this need is growing. This is the kind of work that can only come from individual departments/units because the people doing the work every day know what kind of work has to be prioritized after a major disruption.

    21% of departments have continuity plans


    We will be working with departments to get plans written and exercised. But it also depends on interest and awareness in departments. Ask your team about continuity of operations planning. When a new staff member joins your team, updating your continuity plan should be an obvious next step. This is all part of developing a culture of continuity at the University. While the severity and consequences of an emergency cannot be predicted, effective contingency planning can minimize the impact on the University of Washington missions, personnel, and facilities.

    Do you want to know more about how your team is doing? Contact our BARC manager, Megan Levy, a levym2@uw.edu

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