July 16, 2009 By Elaine Rundle
On July 9, the U.S. Department of Education awarded grants totaling more than $9.7 million in Emergency Management for Higher Education discretionary funds to 26 colleges and universities. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration also contributed to the grants.
As specified in the grant application, each plan must address the four phases of emergency management: mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. According to the press release, funds may be used to update existing emergency management plans; conduct vulnerability assessments of campus facilities; provide training to campus staff and students; organize tabletop exercises or large-scale drills; collaborate with local first responders and community partners; and develop or enhance plans for preventing violence on campus by assessing and addressing the mental health needs of students who may be at risk of causing campus violence.
An example of how a university is going to put the funds to use is the University of Oregon, which was allotted $474,333 in the emergency management grants. According to Andre LeDuc, director of the University of Oregon Emergency Management (UOEM) program, the university will use its grant to build upon the emergency management program it started in fall 2007. He said the university already has a good start on the emergency management components, but will be able to enlist an integrated program that ties together response, mitigation, business continuity and preparedness.
The UOEM also will use the grant to enlist in Incident Command System training and work toward National Fire Protection Association Standard 1600, which is designed to cover a program's basic criteria that addresses disaster recovery, emergency management and business continuity.
"The campus has done bits and pieces of business continuity planning, but again we want to build a more uniform structure to business continuity and continuity of operations planning for the campus," he said.
LeDuc also said part of the grant requirements include addressing infectious disease and pandemic flu planning. He said the UOEM is already examining what worked and didn't work surrounding the campus's response to the H1N1 virus, while examining continuity of operations. "We think business continuity and pandemic flu planning go hand in hand," he said. "We use the pandemic as a means to work with our departments and get them thinking about essential personnel, critical functions and how they prioritize that with a limited work force and limited resources."
The 2009 grants were distributed as follows:
Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University
District of Columbia
The Catholic University of America
Miami Dade College
University of Central Florida
University of Idaho
Illinois Community College District #515
(Prairie State College)
Chicago Heights, Ill.
Johnson County Community College
Overland Park, Kan.
University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Massachusetts Maritime Academy
Buzzards Bay, Mass.
Eastern Michigan University
Missouri State University
The University of Montana
Seton Hall University
South Orange, N.J.
Research Foundation of CUNY c/o John Jay College
New York, N.Y.
North Dakota State University
Southern Oregon University
University of Oregon
Teaching Research Institute
(Western Oregon University)
Community College of Allegheny County
University of Rhode Island
Texas A&M University
College Station, Texas
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Port Angeles, Wash.
Laramie County Community College