INSIDE BINGHAMTON UNIVERSITY
Communication tools bolster campus safety
With the recent release of the SUNY Chancellor’s Task Force on Critical Management Recommendations, the University is assessing and enhancing its emergency response capabilities.
“The campus has always had the safety of students, faculty and staff as a primary goal,” said James Van Voorst, vice president for administration. “The University Police spearhead our emergency preparedness and response effectively, and David Hubeny is charged full time with the responsibility.”
Hubeny, special services coordinator with University Police, served with Deputy Chief of University Police Timothy Faughnan on the task force that recommended best practices for all campuses to adopt. Binghamton, already compliant with the National Incident Management System (NIMS), has received accolades for its emergency response plan.
“We also continue to update our strategies and tools available for various events, emergencies and other situations the campus may encounter,” Van Voorst said.
Some of the recent actions the campus has taken are in the area of communications. They include using strategies such as radios and redundant notices and information through electronic and voice communication vehicles. For example, Van Voorst noted that Dateline and the new BU Alert Line (see box) were used effectively during a brief evacuation of Science 2.
BU Alert Line replaces Snow Line as a more universal method to update callers in emergency or weather-related situations.
The University is also continuing NIMS training for police and all relevant personnel. First responders include staff from Environmental Health and Safety as well as police, Vestal fire and Harpur’s Ferry, and Hubeny said there has been tremendous growth in the training level of all emergency responders as well as some administrators on campus. “Our Emergency Operations Center has much more clearly designated roles and can be established quickly with well-trained individuals who can handle any emergency,” he said.
Faughnan said there is excellent coordination and cooperation with off-campus responders as well. “We work with off-campus agencies during breaks, conducting and cooperating with drills to test our training,” he said. “We also coordinate with the Counseling Center and have scheduled additional mental health training for our staff.”
It’s important to note that the University housed more than 2,000 people in the Events Center during last summer’s flood, Van Voorst said. “Our preparation and the command strategy in our plans allowed us to quickly put the necessary structure into place so the evacuees were well taken care of and safe,” he said.
A new session called Conversations on Safety has been added to each Beginnings Orientation Program. It provides parents and incoming students a chance to learn more about campus emergency response and safety initiatives and to ask questions of safety personnel.