Annex 1 - Shelter Operations

Decision to Open an On-Campus Shelter


Binghamton University facilities may be requested for use as a shelter for community residents who have been displaced from their homes due to natural or man-made disasters. The University works with the Broome County Office of Emergency Services (BCOES), the American Red Cross (ARC) and the Broome County Department of Health (BCDOH) to coordinate all activities related to emergency shelter operations. In addition to providing assistance to the local community, the university itself may have the need to provide emergency sheltering or relocation assistance to meet internal needs.

Needs for Sheltering

The needs for sheltering can include events such as floods, tornados and fires, as well as providing a temporary location of critical services when an emergency makes it impossible to provide for continuity of operations. With a wide array of needs for use of shelters, it is impossible to define with 100% certainty the manner in which University facilities may be requested.

Requesting policy for external agencies

During times of community emergencies, unusual events and other unforeseen circumstances an external agency may request the use of Binghamton University facilities or resources. In order for the University to quickly and efficiently respond to all requests it is necessary to direct all calls to a single point.

All requests for University resources shall be made to New York State University Police (NYSUP) at 607-777-2393. This number is staffed 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. The external agency must describe the nature of the request and provide a call-back number. The request will be forwarded to a University official who will return the call to discuss the request.

Authority to approve the use of a University facility as a shelter

Upon receiving a request to utilize a University facility as a shelter site, the NYSUP communications officer shall immediately make contact with a NYSUP chief officer or the director of emergency management and brief him/her of the request.

The NYSUP chief officer of the director of emergency management shall collect all appropriate information and brief the vice president of operations of the request.

  • In the absence of the vice president of operations, another member of the senior staff shall be notified.

The decision to open a University facility as a shelter site may only be made by a member of senior staff.

Priority Use of a Binghamton University Facility

To help determine the availability of a university facility, the following list shall determine the priority for the use of the university facilities:

    1. Emergency use for Binghamton University staff/faculty/students
    2. Academics
    3. Outside contracts
    4. Emergency use for the community
    5. Athletics

Shelter Types

General Population Shelter

A general population shelter provides basic needs for healthy members of the community who are otherwise able to care for themselves if the emergency situation had not dislocated them from their homes.

Responsibility for all individuals registered into a general population shelter is that of the American Red Cross.

The shelter shall include: protection from the weather, food, water, restrooms and shower facilities.

Some individuals in the general population shelter may require basic Functional Needs Support Services (FNSS) at a low or minimal level. This need for FNSS would not rise to a level that would require those individuals being put in a Special Medical Needs shelter. These include, but are not limited to, diabetics who require regular blood-glucose testing, partially or fully blind people, those who require the help of a guide dog or people who need mobility aids like wheelchairs. Upon check in, individuals who require any minor special assistance should be documented and general population shelter staff should administer those services.

Functional Special Needs Shelter (Special Medical Needs)

A special medical needs shelter provides basic and advanced needs for members of the community that may not be able to care for themselves. A functional special needs shelter is designed to provide special care to individuals who may require a level of attention that is higher than the general population.

Responsibility for all individuals registered into a special needs shelter is that of the Broome County Health Department and the New York State Health Department. During the academic year, students and staff of the Decker School of Nursing may be used to assist the medical staff (nurses and doctors) working in the functional special needs shelter, at the discretion of the Department of Health.

In addition to the same basic needs provided in a general population shelter, a functional special needs shelter may also need to supply specialized medical care including, but not limited to nursing care, medication and medical equipment.

Selection of a campus facility

When determining which university facility may be utilized as an emergency shelter, the following items must be considered:

  1. All facilities
    • Are any groups/individuals currently using the facility? If so, how critical is this use of the facility? Can the individuals/groups currently using the facility be moved to a different facility?
    • Are there any issues with the facility that prevent its use as a shelter (i.e. lack of power, lack of heat, lack of water, ongoing construction, etc.)?
    • Will the facility provide appropriate protection from the emergency (i.e. will the shelter be safe from the effects of the flood, tornado, etc.)?
    • Is the emergency on a big enough scale that requires the use of two or more facilities? (i.e. the use of the Events Center as a general population shelter and the West Gym as a functional medical needs shelter). If so, the need to operate two separate facilities will create a need to have both facilities in close proximity to each other.
  2. Events Center
    • Is the basketball floor down, and if so, does it need to be protected?
  3. West Gym
    • Does the situation necessitate the use of air conditioning? This building does not provide air conditioning.
  4. East Gym
    • 2011 building renovations installed air conditioning in this facility, which may allow its use as a shelter during warm weather.

Facility Capacities

Binghamton University has several facilities that can be used in shelter operations.  Capacity for these venues has been based on minimum spacing numbers provided by the American Red Cross (40 sq. ft. per cot). THESE ARE MAXIMUM OCCUPANCY LIMITS AND MAY BE REDUCED IF FLOOR SPACE IS USED FOR PURPOSES OTHER THAN COT SPACE. Space must to left for a separate dining area, several walkways(evacuation safety), and other support services that require floor space. 

Red Cross Long-Term Shelters

40 sq. ft. required per cot (per Red Cross standards) + Space for evacuee services



Sq. Ft.

# of COTS

Events Center

Event Level



East Gym



West Gym





Once it has been determined that a Binghamton University facility will be opened as an emergency shelter, the following individuals must be notified:

  • Senior staff
  • University Chief of Police
  • University Director of Emergency Management
  • Incident Management Team (IMT) members
  • Director of Operations, Facilities Management
  • Associate Director of Environmental Health and Safety
  • Chief - Harpur's Ferry Student Volunteer Ambulance
  • Director of Communications and Marketing
  • Building Administrator (for the facility to be opened)
  • Department heads of all departments with offices in the facility to be opened
  • Director of Human Resources
  • University attorney
  • Director of Sodexo

Preparation of the selected facility

The building administrator for the selected facility(s) shall assist in the preparation of the building. Facilities Management must be immediately involved to provide labor and resources to prepare the facility to receive evacuees. Needed supplies will include, but not be limited to the following resources for the Events Center (see diagram):

  • Chairs (minimum of 200 at registration area)
  • 6’ Collapsible tables (minimum of 30 – 8 for registration, 8 for food service, 4 for phone bank, 10 for miscellaneous.)
  • Pipe and drape, as necessary, for the following areas/purposes:
    • EMS treatment raoom
    • Evacuee service areas
    • Supply storage/separation
    • Functional medical needs patient privacy
    • Waste receptacles and disposable bags (additional units may be needed due to anticipated building occupancy)
    • Bathroom supplies (i.e. paper towels, soap, toilet paper, etc.)
    • Towels (to be made available in shower areas – provided by the American Red Cross)
    • Cots and bedding (provided by the American Red Cross)
    • TV with cable connection, qty. 2 (not required, but preferred) – For news updates for the evacuees.
    • Telephones
      • Qty. 4 minimum – For use by the general population evacuees
      • Qty. 1 minimum – For use by the functional medical needs evacuees
      • Qty. 3 for the Emergency Operations Center
      • Qty. 1 for the functional medical needs shelter staff
      • Qty. 1 for the American Red Cross staff

Facilities Management must be consulted for the purpose of setting building utilities to appropriate levels (i.e. heat, air conditioning, etc.)

The building emergency generator shall be inspected for appropriate level of fuel (if necessary) and functionally tested if practical.

NIMS and Incident Command

All shelter operations on the Binghamton University campus will be managed through the use of the National Incident Management System (NIMS). The Incident Management Team (IMT) shall be activated as soon as possible and shall manage all campus operations while the shelter is open.

All external agencies operating at the shelter shall provide a liaison to the IMT. A Binghamton University Agency Representative shall be provided to the Broome County EOC while the shelter is open.

Status of other campus facilities

Because the management of an emergency shelter may exhaust many University resources, it may be necessary to temporarily terminate or alter activities on campus.  The IMT shall make the final determination as to the status of any campus activity.  Events/actions that must be considered include, but are not limited to the following activities:

  • Operation of laboratories: Environmental Health and Safety and other emergency responders may not be immediately available for emergency response. 
  • Athletic events: Key staff may not be able to support this type event (i.e. police, parking services, Facilities Management, etc.).
  • Other events: Any other event that requires the use of University staff, resources or facilities that may impact the safety of the event attendees or the shelter operation.
  • Dining Halls: Not all dining halls may be able to operate during a shelter operation on campus due to lack of resources and Sodexo staff that have been relocated to the evacuation shelter. Sodexo staff shall make recommendations as to the operational status and capabilities of all campus dining facilities to the IMT.


  • Sodexo has a contract with Binghamton University to provide all food on the Binghamton University campus. During an emergency shelter operation, Sodexo must immediately work with the IMT, the ARC and the Health Departments to see if it is able to provide the necessary amount of meals.
  • The American Red Cross (ARC) and the county and state health departments shall determine the daily dietary needs of the shelter.
  • Special dietary needs (i.e. allergies, diabetics, vegetarians, etc.) must be considered when developing a meal schedule.


  • Facilities Management will be responsible for the cleaning and maintenance of the shelter facility during its operation.

  • Cleaning/maintenance personnel shall be dedicated to the shelter operation and every effort shall be made to prevent these staff members from being used elsewhere on campus.


  • University Police and Parking Services shall provide the necessary resources (i.e. manpower, signage, etc.) to direct evacuees, buses, etc. to appropriate locations on campus.
  • The number of personal vehicles will likely be small compared to the number of evacuees, but accommodations shall be made to ensure no tickets are issued to evacuees.
  • Buses will require a clear path to and from the shelter for the purpose of dropping off and picking up evacuees.

Helicopter Operations

  • If it becomes necessary to create a helicopter landing zone on campus, appropriate manpower will be assigned to adequately secure the site.
  • A landing zone officer shall be assigned. This person shall assume all responsibility for the safety and security of the landing zone. The person should have knowledge of helicopter safety.
  • The landing zone shall be located in an area free of overhead obstructions (i.e. power lines, lights, etc.) and with minimal loose objects that could be blown by the rotor-wash of the helicopter.
  • No personnel shall enter the landing zone without permission of the landing officer.
  • The area may include lighting for safety, but no lighting shall be pointed in the air, in the direction of the pilot or in any other manner that could affect the vision of the pilot.


  • American Red Cross and health department policies do not allow for pets in emergency shelters. An exception to this rule is made for any documented guide/helping animals.
  • The Broome County EOC is responsible for the evacuation and care of pets. The IMT shall notify the Broome County EOC when pets arrive at the University shelter. The Broome County EOC shall make arrangements for the transportation of the pets to an appropriate pet care facility.

Registration Process

  • All evacuees must be registered before entering the shelter and receiving services.
  • The American Red Cross (ARC) shall be responsible for the registration of all evacuees entering into the general population shelter.
  • The Broome County Department of Health shall be responsible for the registration of all evacuees entering into the functional medical needs shelter.
  • A color-coded wristband (provided by Binghamton University) shall be issued to every registered evacuee. The general population evacuees shall have a different color wristband than functional medical needs evacuees.
    • Any evacuee discovered inside the shelter who does not have an official wristband shall be escorted back to the registration area for proper checkin.
    • University Police assistance shall be requested if the evacuee resists checkin.
  • If a person’s registration (general population vs. functional medical needs) is in dispute between the ARC and the health department, the evacuee may not enter the shelter until one of the external agencies assumes responsibility for that person.


  • Volunteers can be a valuable resource for the management of an evacuation shelter.
  • If Binghamton University-affiliated volunteers are available, they will be offered volunteer opportunities before non-affiliated individuals are allowed to assist. The use of affiliated volunteers allows the University to have significantly more information on the volunteers (i.e. personal information, discipline records, etc.) than would otherwise be available.
  • Binghamton University shall be responsible for the registration and work assignments of affiliated volunteers.
  • The American Red Cross shall be responsible for non-affiliated volunteers assigned to the general population shelter.
  • The Broome County Department of Health shall be responsible for non-affiliated volunteers assigned to the functional medical needs shelter.
  • The decision of when to utilize volunteers and where to place the volunteer sign up/staging area shall be ultimately determined by the Incident Commander and the Incident Management Team (IMT).

Medical Care

  • Harpur's Ferry Student Volunteer Ambulance Services (HFSVAS) shall be immediately activated upon the opening of a campus shelter. HFSVAS members will be responsible for emergency responses within the shelter. HFSVAS shall dedicate a minimum of one crew and one transporting ambulance to the shelter. HFSVAS should be given an area within the shelter to stage their equipment and to serve as a treatment room (i.e. the media room on the ground floor of the Events Center).
  • The American Red Cross and the departments of health shall be responsible for providing adequate medical staffing to handle non-emergency related medical problems. Non-emergency medical problems include, but are not limited to, medication issues, taking of vital signs, taking of patient histories, providing routine oxygen, etc.
  • The IMT shall monitor the available medical resources and keep the Broome County EOC informed of any resource needs.


  • New York State University Police (NYSUP) shall be responsible for all security at a campus shelter.
  • If necessary, NYSUP shall begin 12-hour operational shifts in order to adequately staff the shelter as well as the rest of campus.
  • Uniformed NYSUP officers shall be stationed in highly visible locations inside the shelter. These officers shall be dedicated to the shelter and should not be utilized for other duties on campus.