| Challenges of Emergency Planning Essay
This paper enables a reader to understand the challenges of emergency planning. This will be possible by the following emergency plan which outlines the actions taken during natural disaster. The emergency plan will be for Ashford Universitys campus based in Clinton, Iowa. The location of the campus exposes the students and residents to dangerous natural disasters such as tornado, strong storms, and flooding. For this reason, it is mandatory for the school to have an emergency plan which will cover for the emergencies related to the disasters. The main significance of an emergency plan is to provide guidance during an emergency, and it helps to discover unrecognized hazardous conditions that may heighten the emergency situation. In addition, the plan helps in identifying deficiencies like lack of resources (trained personnel, equipment, supplies), which are essential in any department in case of a tornado occurrence. The overall aim of the emergency plan will be to create safety awareness and show an outline of the campus commitment to the well being of the students.
The subsequent natural and man-made disasters could impact the campus:
Purpose of the Plan
The location of the campus increases the chances of it having emergencies related to natural disasters such as floods, strong storms, and tornados. For this reason, it is indispensable to pre- plan to avoid the occurrence of a disaster. This emergency plan gives an outline of the procedures for handling sudden situations. The main purpose of the plan is to minimize consequences of the tornado emergency through:
Preventing injuries and fatalities
Minimizing damage to equipment, stock, and buildings.
Increasing the resumption of normal functioning of the campus after a tornado.
In the past times, the occurrences of tornados have had a sizeable influence on the environment, especially in the campus, leaving several vegetations destroyed. Ashford University campus is in Clinton, Iowa, which is in mid-west of the United States. This location is popular due to its high incidences of strong storms, which result in violent tornadoes and flooding. Subsequently, the chances of a tornado occurring are high and, therefore, a plan needs to be in place in preparation of the disaster. Most emergencies are sudden events, and for that reason, every institution requires an emergency plan, but, for some emergencies, one can predict their occurrence. For instance, a tornado is a predictable emergency, and emergency planning can make it possible for the disaster managers to predict its occurrence with some level of certainty. As a part of the emergency plan, there needs to an outline of the preparations people should undertake during the tornado season. The following is some of the preparations and resources needed in case of an occurrence of a tornado at Ashford University main campus (Perry & Lindell, 2006).
Before a Tornado
As a part of the preparation for a tornado emergency, people in Ashford University need to take the following actions. The emergency team plan needs to locate safe places where people can shelter in case of the tornado. These safe areas should be where the tornado may not intervene and should be protected by load- bearing walls, far away from outside windows, masonry walls, and storage roofs, which can collapse. All facility windows and doors need to be securely closed to avoid any inlet of water which may cause flooding. The roofs of the safe places need to be water proof, and the buildings need to have sufficient lighting. Extra flashlights can be provided, and they should be in working conditions. All areas in the campus need to be fitted with tornado alarm system so that when the moment the tornado kicks off, every student and personnel was aware of it. Most noteworthy is that the radio at the weather service station should be in a proper working condition as it will be useful in making announcements to the campus residents at the time of tornado (Kramer, 2009).
At the Beginning of the Tornado
Tornadoes occur in certain seasons, and at the beginning of this season, it is necessary for the emergency team to organise a property clean- up. The main significance of this property clean- up is to remove or secure all loose debris and objects as this will minimize hazards. A tornado drill is essential, which includes mobilizing the weather watchers, tornado alarm and any other method through which people can be notified about the tornado. It is also necessary for the emergency team to carry out head count of students and other residents of the campus. The moment the National Weather Service tornado alarms signals the location of a tornado in the campus, there needs to be a tornado warning and a tornado announcement. For instance, asking all students to move to the tornado shelter areas immediately, and this message should be repeated several times through the national weather service radio. Just in case there is a power failure, the message can be conveyed through word of mouth from the emergency team supervisors or other people. Once everybody is securely places in the tornado shelters, everybody will remain in there until the all-clear announcement goes through the radios (Bennett, 2010).
After a Tornado
People leaving the tornado shelter need to be aware of any damaged buildings and objects so that they can stay away from them till these get repaired. There should be head count just in case of any causalities or missing students on campus. The above detailed explanation of what actions to take in case a tornado occurs give the administration a clear picture of the necessity of implementing the emergency plan. The occurrence of a tornado in this campus cannot be overlooked and, therefore, the management needs to put the plan in place. Some of the resources the university needs to invest in so that the plan can be efficient include shelter buildings, tornado alarms, radio calls, and trained personnel who will be responsible for directing students and other residents of Ashford University. In addition, the campus needs to invest in flashlights which will be helpful in case of power loss. First aid kits, toiletries, map of the area, work gloves, pumps to remove water, fans and dehumidifiers, blankets, sleeping bags, whistle to signal for help, plastic sheeting, wet and dry vacuum cleaners, which will take care of the disaster causalities, need to be in the shelter buildings.
Concept of Operations for Campus Emergency Response to a Tornado
This plan will outline a fire response plan which always comes as a result of the tornado. There needs to be a fire response policy which will be responsible for preventing fire in the campus. The fire response policy recommends the provision of fire extinguishers and has all the employees undergo intensive training on the use of the fire equipment. Other areas which require preparation include the disaster of flooding, which may come because of the tornado. The shelter buildings need to be set with equipment that will be useful in removing water in case of flooding. Drainage pipes and dampening materials are vital in this instance.
Reducing Potential Damage
To minimize impending damage in the campus, the emergency team needs to take the following actions:
Protecting fragile objects and equipments by putting them on a shelf or stand using hook- and loop fasteners.
Securely attaching framed mirrors and pictures on the wall using closed screw eyes and wire.
Lifting up electrical machinery off the floor in case of flooding.
Shifting to lower shelves objects that may fall and break or injure someone.
Let professionals install flexible connectors to equipments and appliances fuelled by natural gas.
Professionally install shutters that close to protect windows from dents caused by debris blown by a tornado.
Coordinating with Others
For the emergency plan to be effective, Ashford campus will have to work together with other institutions in case a tornado occurs. The following people from neighbouring organizations and businesses and the building management will take part in the emergency planning team:
The police department of Iowa
Fire department in Iowa
Marine security team in Clinton
The weather service station in Clinton
Mobile rescue squads
Suppliers and contractors- these are the companies which will supply the university with the equipments and materials that are helpful during the tornado. Each supplier will have their category of materials and equipment to supply the university with, and this will be indicated in the emergency plan. It is necessary for suppliers and contractors to have prior knowledge of their responsibility. This is important so that in the event of the tornado, there is minimal confusion on which role a company has to play.
The emergency team needs to communicate with the insurance agents concerning the precautions the university needs to take during the tornado. In protecting some of the valuable insured equipment and property, the university will have to add distinctive riders. There needs to be discussion between the university and insurance agents on the possibility of business continuity after the tornado. What training and exercises must be developed and executed to prepare the campus for the emergency plan?
Since tornado is a disaster which has chances of occurring in the university, there are some exercises and practices that all students need to be familiar with just in case they fall victims of the disaster. The university residents need to know the buildings which should be used as shelters during a tornado. First aid training is essential to everyone in the university, and this will be more effective if it is in the syllabus. The tornado warnings and alarms need to be familiar with everyone so that when it is in use there is minimal confusion and miscommunication. In shelter buildings, the various areas need to clearly marked, for instance, all exits should be marked, and other pertinent notices need to be visible. Fire safety inspection should be a regular practice in the campus just to keep in check all the fire equipments. It is mandatory to install smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and fire detectors in all buildings and these should be in appropriate areas, for example, where they are accessible (Alexander, 2002).
Additional Plan Annexes
Communication Back up Plans
During any disaster, communication is the most vital activity of all the operations. There needs to be communication between the emergency team, the students, the suppliers, the contractors, and other parties who are vital in this situation. There is always a possibility of communication breakdown in situations where there is an emergency. For this reason, the emergency plan will have alternative means of communication during an emergency, and this should be communication between the key personnel (Nel, 2008). For example, overall commander, engineering, on- scene commander, medical, fire brigade, rescue, and other outside agencies may find themselves at the same place, and without proper communication, there will be miscommunication on who should do what and why. Ashford, being a large organization, will require massive communication network to be in place so that the emergency plan can be efficient in times of tornado emergency. The personnel responsible under the emergency plan need to have all the relevant addresses and telephone numbers of those people they may have to get in touch with during the tornado. The emergency plan needs to outline the factors which will establish procedures required in an emergency, for example, the degree of the emergency, immediacy of external aid, size of the organization, number of shelter buildings, abilities of the organization in the emergency situation, and the physical layout of the premises (Goss, 1998).
Tornado Warning Procedures and Mechanism
There is need for consistency in the alerts and signals used during a tornado. This will ensure that the whole university is familiar with the occurrence of the emergency once they see or hear a certain signal. In case of any changes in the procedures and mechanisms of alerting the occurrence of a tornado, it will be essential that everybody is aware of the changes. People in Ashford University should all be watching out for tornado warnings and signs; this can be through television and radio. Tornado watch should be taken seriously, and its announcement is mostly when the weather conditions favour the occurrence of tornadoes e.g. when there is a severe thunderstorm (Auckland, 2003).
Evacuation procedures are processes which will help people to get protected from the tornado, as they will have to relocate to the shelter buildings. Everyone needs to be familiar with this process. All the buildings which will be in use during the tornado will be marked. The buildings need to be safe and secure and strong so that they can withstand any form of pressure from the strong storms. The shelters provided need to be sufficient as the university accommodates thousands and thousands of students.
Mass Care for the Injured
As outlined earlier, the university will have mechanisms in place to help the injured people in the tornado emergency. Stocked ambulances, first aid kits, and other necessary requirements should be in place, because in such an occurrence, there is no ruling out of accidents and injuries. Proper medication should be given to the injured and rushed to nearby hospitals for further check-ups.
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