UW Emergency Management

April 16, 2018

UW Senior Leadership Test Recovery Plans

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.