Guide for Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Institutions of
Higher Education: At a Glance
Our nation’s postsecondary institutions are entrusted to provide a safe and healthy
learning environment for students, faculty, and staff who live, work, and study
on campus. Faced with emergencies ranging from active shooter situations
to fires, tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and pandemic influenza, this
is no easy task. Many of these emergencies occur with little to no warning; therefore,
it is critical for institutions of higher education (IHEs) to plan ahead to help
ensure the safety and general welfare of all members of the campus community.
Lessons learned from emergencies at IHEs highlight the importance of preparing IHE
officials and first responders to implement emergency operations plans. By having
plans in place to keep students and staff safe, IHEs play a key role in taking preventative
and protective measures to stop an emergency from occurring or reduce the impact
of an incident. When an emergency occurs, IHE personnel must respond immediately,
providing first aid, notifying response partners, and providing instruction before
first responders arrive. IHE officials must work with partners across the institution
as well as their community partners (governmental organizations that have a responsibility
in the IHE emergency operations plan) including first responders (law enforcement
officers, fire department officials, and emergency medical services [EMS] personnel),
emergency managers, and public health and mental health practitioners to provide
a cohesive, coordinated response.
On June 18, 2013, the White House released guides for developing high-quality emergency
operations plans for schools and institutions of higher education (IHEs). These
guides align and build upon years of emergency planning work by the Federal government
and are the first joint product of DHS, DOJ, ED and HHS on this critical topic.
The guides are customized to each type of community, incorporate lessons learned
from recent incidents, and respond to the needs and concerns voiced by stakeholders
following the shootings in Newtown and Oak Creek and the tornadoes
in Oklahoma. Schools and IHEs can use them to create new plans as well as to revise
and update existing plans and align their emergency planning practices with those
at the national, state, and local levels.
It is recommend that planning teams at IHEs responsible for developing and revising
a higher ed EOP use the information presented here to guide their efforts. It is
recommended that IHEs compare existing plans and processes against the content and
processes outlined in this Guide.
To gain the most from it, users should read through all of this content prior to
initiating their planning efforts, and then refer back to it throughout the planning
process. The content of the guide is organized into five main sections here, broken
out into easy-to-read parts.
- The principles of emergency management planning
- A process for developing, implementing, and continually
refining a higher ed EOP with community partners.
- A discussion of the content of higher ed EOPs.
- Additional information on the critical operational functions
and courses of action developed to carry them out that IHEs should address in developing
a comprehensive, high-quality higher ed EOP.
- Additional information on the courses of action unique to particular threats and hazards.