Crisis Management on Campus

A guide to establishing and implementing a comprehensive crisis management plan with emphasis on training and technology


Our Crisis Coordinator Certification Program is made up of four individual training modules:

Module I – Crisis Coordinator Responsibilities and Overview includes what the Crisis Coordinator can expect to be faced with, and the how’s and why’s of sheltering-in principles as well as when to evacuate.

Module II – Operational Interface with Police identifies the actual response and interface with the police during an actual event. It identifies types of bombs and bomb making materials, and the training that comes with it for recognition of the initial bomb patterns and resultant pressure waves in greater distances.

Module III – Terrorism and Awareness Indicators includes an overview of recent and former terrorism trends and includes subject matter experts from the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Module IV – First Aid Training, Fire Extinguisher, MSDS Sheet Identification & Safety Overview. This module is broken into two distinct classes: CPR, AED and first aid, then the fire extinguisher hands-on training with the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for hazardous materials and a general safety overview.

Once the four modules are completed, Crisis Coordinators are instructed to go online to the Incident Command System (ICS) courses given by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at the Emergency Management Institute (EMI) (http://training.fema.gov/EMI/). The four courses are: Introduction to Incident Command System; Single Resource and Initial Action Incidents; National Incident Management System (NIMS), an Introduction; and National Response Framework, an Introduction.
Once all four classroom modules are completed and the four online ICS course completions are fulfilled, the Crisis Coordinator receives their certificate as well as a Challenge Coin signifying the membership in this elite group of Immediate Responders.

These Crisis Coordinators are outfitted with orange Crisis Coordinator vests, whistles and digital walkie-talkie radios, separated via individual radio channels that afford real-time communications during an incident. The radios are not a part of the public safety radio system, which allows the crisis team to act separately. As we subsequently found out a year ago when all power was lost on campus, the only method of response to this issue was the crisis radio system, in conjunction with our public safety radio system.

Mass Notification

The second layer of response is our Siren and Voice Over alerts from American Signal, installed and supported by Convergint Technologies, which are only used when a shelter-in issue is identified, such as a hazardous material spill, a tornado warning or an active shooter/person with a gun alert. This system is very helpful during class change time when thousands of students and faculty are moving across the campus and may not know of a problem that is ahead or behind them. The system, and our training/education of people, enables them to seek shelter immediately. Four separate towers are deployed on the 360-acre campus and offsite location that ensures full coverage, using battery activation through solar charging.

The third layer of response is the Early Notification System encompassing alert messages through the use of SMS texting, cell voice messaging and e-mail alerts through a system from Blackboard called ConnectED. Rather than use an “opt-in” approach, the administration prides itself on making sure we are in contact with all our students, faculty and staff, and to do that, we upload the contact telephones and cell phones of each person through the Personnel system (ADP) and our student system (Banner) each evening. This ensures a phone number is in the alert system for every person, but does allow for an “opt-out” if the person so chooses.
Sending messages has been simple and quick, once the system is used frequently, but we still only use it in emergencies and not for general daily announcements. This way, when the call ID identifies our campus main number, everyone knows it is a real emergency message and not a class change rescheduling. Nearly 30,000 messages are sent out immediately and normally received within a few minutes — some immediately depending on the queue. SMS texts are received first, then the voice cell calls, then e-mails.