More than 100 staff and faculty members from across the Blacksburg campus and satellite centers participated in a half-day workshop on May 17 designed to increase emergency preparedness.

Participants heard presentations from technical experts in the areas of safety and security, fire safety, emergency planning for individuals with disabilities, weather emergencies, and office and family preparedness.

Through an initiative from the university’s Safety and Security Policy Committee, a building emergency coordinator is identified in all university buildings through a committee of the occupying departments. The departments then work collaboratively to develop an integrated fire and life safety plan; more commonly known as an Emergency Action Plan.

The building emergency coordinator is responsible for the development and maintenance of the Emergency Action Plan for their building and disseminating emergency preparedness information to building occupants. This position will assist in the movement of people during a building evacuation, shelter-in-place, or secure-in-place situation. Moreover, the building emergency coordinator serves as a single point of contact and the link between first responders and building occupants during an emergency.  

“The Building Emergency Coordinator Program closes a gap between first responder agencies and the departments that occupy buildings. By appointing and training a single point of contact in each building, we are better prepared to handle localized emergencies,” said Michael J. Mulhare, director of Emergency Management at Virginia Tech.

Administered by the Office of Emergency Management, the program relies on support from departments holding a stake in emergency preparedness on campus including

  • Office of Emergency Management;
  • Environmental Health and Safety;
  • Virginia Tech Rescue Squad;
  • University ADA Services;
  • Services for Students with Disabilities;
  • Division of Student Affairs, Emergency Preparedness and;
  • Virginia Tech Police Department.

Because emergency preparedness on campus is everyone’s responsibility, faculty, staff, and students should be aware of general emergency procedures in their buildings. Building occupants can review these emergency procedures in their departmental Emergency Action Plan or by contacting their building emergency coordinator.

The Office of Emergency Management strives to create a culture of preparedness and resiliency by preparing for, responding to, and facilitating recovery from emergencies that may affect the university.

Written by Bobbi Myers.