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Crisis Management: Necessary but Daunting

Your students might have noticed a larger-than-usual number of police cars and EMT-type vehicles on campus yesterday.  That’s because from 8am-1 pm, the campus’ Crisis Management Team was running a simulation drill to help practice what we would do in the event of a campus emergency.  It’s a necessary – but daunting – task.

We get together as a full team once or twice a year to run through disaster simulations.  Within the large team, there are smaller sub-teams who are responsible for things like communications, planning, operations, security, and more.  Though the full team meets a couple of times a year, the smaller sub-teams meet more regularly to go over items on their group’s task list.

The Parent Programs office is represented on the Crisis Management Team, and there are a few takeaways from yesterday’s simulation that we want to share with you.

1) In the event of a campus emergency, students, faculty, and staff would be notified in a number of ways, including text messages, email messages, and/or an outdoor siren system.  The outdoor system is being test this Saturday – your students should not be alarmed; they will see/hear a message that this is a test.

2) If there were an actual emergency, there would be a large red bar across the top of the main Wake Forest page (www.wfu.edu) that would indicate there is some sort of emergency.  Click on that red bar to go to the Wake Alert web site, which is where all emergency information will be located.  During an emergency, that Wake Alert web site will be the primary source for news and updates.

3) Parents and students may wish to read and bookmark the Wake Alert web site now, so you can locate it easily in the event of a campus crisis.

4) Students (and parents) should also read and bookmark the Wake Ready web site, which is all about pre-crisis preparedness.  I would recommend they read it at the start of each semester to familiarize themselves (or refresh their memory) about what they should do in the event of an emergency.

5) One of the key components of the last two drills we have run as a Crisis Management Team has involved the concept of “Shelter in Place” or staying indoors in a safe place until told that the danger has passed.  You should ask your student if he/she knows what it means to shelter in place.  If he/she does not, please refer them to the Shelter in Place link.

6) During a campus emergency, we will be all hands on deck dealing with whatever the situation is at hand.  Because of this, people you may know on campus (such as the Parent Programs office) will likely not be able to field individual phone calls and emails.  This is not because we don’t want to be responsive, it is because we need to take care of the safety and security of your students first.  All information that is publicly available will go on the Wake Alert web site, so even if you called our office (and we were here) we would only be able to tell you what is posted on the Wake Alert web site, because that is all the information available at that time.  In the event of an emergency that goes on for some duration, we will try to post a new update on Wake Alert every 10-15 minutes – even if it just said the situation has not changed – just so you know we are on the case.

7) Students should follow whatever instructions are posted on the Wake Alert page or in campuswide emails.  If we tell students to shelter in place, that is because it is our best recommendation for their safety.  It is not a wise idea to disobey security recommendations.

8) Finally, and this one is meant solely to give you some peace of mind in a scary situation: my personal opinion is that there are no better people to be in that Crisis Management Team room if a disaster actually occurred.  This team is full of experts on all manners of campus life.  They know the campus in and out, they have the authority to get things done and they remain cool under pressure, and they are all smart.  If it can be done, this team will figure out how to do it.  They are selfless, they are brave.  And they want to do all they can for your children.

If you are the type to say your prayers at night, please always add one for the safety and security of not just your own student, but the entire campus at large.  But know that if trouble came, we have the best people on hand to work toward the safety and security of your students in an organized, calm, compassionate way.

If something bad were coming my way, I trust the members of this team completely.  That’s the highest compliment I can pay them.

Category: campus life