Emergency Response and Evacuation Procedures and Testing
The Dean of Students and Miami Police Chief co-chair the Miami Institutional Response Team (IRT) which serves as the interdisciplinary response team when there is concern that a student may pose a risk of substantial harm to the student or to others or to property. The IRT consists of representatives of various campus offices, any one of whom may receive information about a potentially distressed student or immediate safety concern. The IRT then works collaboratively to collate the available information about a student and/or situation to determine the most appropriate intervention. The IRT is also charged with responding to incidents that may present a risk of substantial disruption to the university community. The Miami University Police are responsible for determining whether there is a significant emergency or dangerous situation on campus.
Miami Police Officers and members of the IRT have received training in the National Incident Management System (NIMS). Miami has also established a Crisis Management Team (CMT) to carry out its crisis management plan. Among preparations developed to respond in a disaster are large-scale power generators, communications via several means, a computer server off site in case Miami's is non-functioning, and police training in numerous dangerous situations. When a serious incident occurs that represents an immediate threat to the campus the Miami University Police and Oxford Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services are typically the first responders and will work together as needed to respond to an incident. Depending on the nature of the threat, other local or state, and federal agencies may be involved in responding.
The IRT and its Care Team meet monthly during the academic year and also meet on an as-needed basis throughout the year. The Office of Environmental Health and Safety coordinates at least one joint IRT and CMT announced or unannounced drill and exercise per year and conducts follow-through activities designed for the assessment and evaluation of emergency plans and capabilities.
Evacuation Procedures and Practice
Evacuation drills are coordinated by the Office of Environmental Health and Safety each semester for all residence hall facilities on the Oxford campus. A fire safety drill using simulated smoke is conducted for first-year residents. A second drill is coordinated each semester for all residence halls. Thus, the emergency response and evacuation procedures are tested at least twice each year and, for some of the buildings, up to four times per year. Evacuation routes are posted in each residence hall. First-year students also receive on-line training regarding fire safety and building evacuation. Students learn the locations of the emergency exits in the buildings and are provided guidance about the direction they should travel when exiting each facility for a short-term building evacuation. Designated locations for long-term evacuations are affected by time of day, location of the building being evacuated, the availability of the various designated emergency gathering locations on campus, and other factors such as the location and nature of the threat. The Miami Police, Student Affairs staff and housing staff on the scene will communicate information to students regarding the developing situation or any evacuation status changes.
The purpose of evacuation drills is to prepare building occupants for an organized evacuation in case of an emergency. Miami uses on-line training and drills to educate and train occupants on issues specific to their residence hall. During the drill, occupants 'practice' drill procedures and familiarize themselves with the location of exits and the sound of the fire alarm. In addition to educating the occupants of each building about the evacuation procedures during the drills, the process also provides the University an opportunity to test the operation of fire alarm system components.
Evacuation drills for residence halls are monitored by Environmental Health and Safety Office and Student Affairs staff. Recommendations for improvements may be submitted to the appropriate departments/offices for consideration. Miami has protocols for assisting people with different disabilities for safe evacuation. Protocols can be found on Miami's Emergency website (www.muohio.edu/emergency).
Miami also conducts regular announced tests of its emergency text messaging system in conjunction with publicized information about registering for the service.
Students receive information about evacuation and shelter-in-place procedures during their first floor meetings and during other educational sessions that they can participate in throughout the year. Student Affairs residential staff members are trained in these procedures as well and act as an on-going resource for the students living in residential facilities.
Shelter-in-Place Procedures—What it Means to "Shelter-in-Place"
If an incident occurs and the buildings or areas around you become unstable, or if the air outdoors becomes dangerous due to toxic or irritating substances, it is usually safer to stay indoors, because leaving the area may expose you to that danger. Thus, to "shelter-in-place" means to make a shelter of the building that you are in, and with a few adjustments, this location can be made even safer and more comfortable until it is safe to go outside.
Basic "Shelter-in-Place" Guidance
If an incident occurs and the building you are in is not damaged, stay inside, seeking an interior room, until you are told it is safe to come out. If your building is damaged, take your personal belongings (purse, wallet, backpack, etc.) and follow the evacuation procedures for your building (close your door, proceed to the nearest exit, and use the stairs instead of the elevators). Once you have evacuated, seek shelter at the nearest University building quickly. If police or fire department personnel are on the scene, follow their directions.
How You Will Know to "Shelter-in-Place"
A shelter-in-place notification may come from several sources, including the Miami Police, housing staff members, other University employees, the federal or state government, Oxford Fire Department, or other authorities utilizing the University's emergency communication tools.
How to "Shelter-in-Place"
No matter where you are, the basic steps of shelter-in-place will generally remain the same. Should the need ever arise, follow these steps, unless instructed otherwise by local emergency personnel:
- If you are inside, stay where you are. Collect any emergency supplies and a telephone to be used in case of emergency. If you are outdoors, proceed into the closest building quickly or follow instructions from emergency personnel on the scene.
- Locate a room to shelter inside. It should have the following characteristics
• An interior room
• Above ground level
• Without windows or with the least number of windows. If there is a large group of people inside a particular building, several rooms maybe necessary.
- Shut and lock all windows (tighter seal) and close exterior doors.
- Turn off air conditioners, heaters, and fans.
- Close vents to ventilation systems as you are able. (University staff will turn off ventilation as quickly as possible.)
- Make a list of the people with you and ask someone (housing staff, faculty, or other staff) to call the list in to Miami Police (513-529-2222 or 911) so they know where you are sheltering. If only students are present, one of the students should call in the list.
- Turn on a radio or TV and listen for further instructions.
For guidance on response to a variety of potential dangers, see Emergency Procedures (www.miami.muohio.edu/emergency/index.cfm?muslider=2).