Emergency Response Plan
PURPOSE AND SCOPE
The Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans (LSUHSC) can be threatened by emergency situations such as, hurricanes, flooding, tornados, hazardous materials releases, and terrorist threats. This Emergency Response Plan (ERP) details procedures for organizing, coordinating and directing resources toward the control of the emergency. The ERP is activated when a critical incident affecting LSUHSC reaches proportions that cannot be handled by established measures.
Emergencies are those situations that have the potential to cause injury or loss of life to faculty, staff, students or the public; major disruptions of regular activities; or property or environmental damage or loss; or that can threaten the financial standing or public image of LSUHSC. LSUHSC’s priorities during an emergency are to protect life safety; minimize damage to physical assets, including structures, research data, and animals; and restore normal operations.
This plan provides the framework for a planned, systematic management approach to emergencies; a venue for promptly identifying and supporting LSUHSC decision makers; a system for evaluating all emergencies with the goal of protecting lives and property, reducing exposure to liability, and providing sound management of public information.
This plan describes the levels of emergency response, the command structure and communications required to adequately respond to emergencies, provide for Continuity of Operations; and the maintenance and operations of the plan. The plan’s annexes provide detailed response information for the types of emergencies LSUHSC may encounter; response actions associated with these annexes are available to all faculty, staff and students on the LSUHSC web page. Furthermore, annual training on the Emergency Response Plan is provided annually to all faculty, students, and staff via the Office of Compliance’s online Knowledge Delivery System.
LEVELS OF EMERGENCY RESPONSE
Emergency incidents are classified according to their severity and potential impact, so that the response is commensurate with the actual conditions. There are four levels of emergency incidents:
Level I. A short term, internal “routine” emergency involving only LSUHSC facilities and employees unlikely to adversely impact or threaten life, health or property (e.g., fire alarm, small chemical spill, water line break impacting a portion of a building and minor flooding). The ERG is not activated for Level I events.
Level II. A short duration event that may threaten life, health or property within a single area (e.g., localized fire or explosion in a single facility, a chemical spill that causes disruption of services, a water main break that impacts critical services, and an odor requiring evacuation). The ERG is usually not activated for Level II emergencies, but establishment of an Incident Command Center may be required.
Level III. An event of unpredictable duration that may adversely impact or threaten life, health or property on a large scale at one or more locations at LSUHSC (e.g., criminal incident, a water main break impacting multiple buildings, a chemical release causing the evacuation of one or more buildings, and threatened acts of terrorism). Control of the incident may require support from outside agencies. The ERG is activated, and resolution of the incident may require establishment of an Incident Command Center.
Level IV. An incident that adversely impacts or threatens life, health or property at LSUHSC on a large scale (e.g., a criminal incident, a large-scale chemical release impacting a significant portion of LSUHSC, flood, or hurricane). Control of the incident will require multiple agencies and multiple LSUHSC departments working together. The ERG is activated, and resolution of the incident may require community multi-jurisdictional and LSUHSC multi-departmental involvement, a long-term recovery plan, and establishment of an Incident Command Center.
For level I incidents, a written report will be filed with the University Police if deemed necessary. For level II-IV incidents, a written report addressing the incident cause, damage estimate, injuries and agencies involved will be completed. If directed by the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (VCAA), participants will hold an incident debriefing/critique.
A clear chain of command facilitates communication and decision making. The LSUHSC personnel and groups involved in emergency response include the Chancellor, the Emergency Response Group, Satellite Operations Centers, Incident Commander, Emergency Response Floor Leaders, and essential personnel.
Chancellor. This plan is promulgated under the authority of the Chancellor. All decisions concerning activation of this plan, the cancellation of classes, or cessation of operations, rest with the Chancellor or his designee.
Emergency Response Group. The VCAA leads the Emergency Response Group (ERG) in the event of an emergency. The Chancellor, VCAA, or their designees may declare a University emergency and activate the ERG. The Chancellor will be consulted, if possible, on any decision to declare an emergency affecting LSUHSC. The Chair assembles and directs the ERG, and serves as the primary liaison with the Chancellor. The Chair appoints the Incident Commander when appropriate, and determines when to declare an emergency and activate the ERG. In the event the VCAA is not available to assume command, the following persons shall succeed to the position in the following order: (1) Vice Chancellor for Governmental, Community and Multicultural Affairs and (2) Associate Vice Chancellor for Property and Facilities. Members of the ERG are as follows:
- Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
- Vice Chancellor for Governmental, Community and Multicultural Affairs
- Associate Vice Chancellor for Property and Facilities
- Assistant Vice Chancellor for Information Technology
- General Counsel
- Director of Information Services
- Executive Director, Environmental Health and Safety
- Executive Director, Supply Chain Management
- Director, Human Resources
- Other members as directed by the Chancellor or VCAA
The ERG is a decision-making body for the LSUHSC community on issues related to the emergency, to include:
- Determining the scope and impact of the incident, and the Emergency Response Level.
- Using information provided by responders, provide input for incident action planning.
- Prioritizing emergency actions.
- Directing the activities of the various departments involved in emergency response and recovery.
- Advocating and negotiating for resources and equipment for field operations. The individual in charge of the Incident scene is responsible to provide status reports and inform the ERG as to what resources are needed.
- Disseminating timely, accurate and appropriate information to the LSUHSC community and to the news media.
- Coordinating with local, state, and federal officials, and other organizations, as appropriate.
The organization of the ERG at the EOC is based on the Incident Command System (ICS) used by local and regional emergency response agencies. Under ICS, ERG members are assigned to functional working groups (sections) as follows:
- Planning Section. Initiates, collects, and verifies field reports; assesses reconnaissance and other data; prioritize situation reports and plans; and develops Incident Action Plans.
- Operations Section. Directs and coordinates all operations, and receives and implements Incident Action Plans.
- Logistic Section. Obtains and stages resources in support of emergency operations.
- Finance/Administration Section. Tracks all incident costs, and tracks and manages the LSUHSC claims process.
The ERG will appoint a Section Chief for each section as appropriate for the type and scale of the emergency. Note that all Sections may not be activated for the every emergency. The ERG may be assisted by Command Staff consisting of:
- Public Information and Media Relations. Manages internal LSUHSC status reports and external staff briefings.
- Safety Officer. A representative from Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) that monitors safety conditions and develops measures for ensuring the safety of assigned personnel.
- Liaison Officer. The on-scene contact for other agencies/localities assigned to the incident.
School Operation Centers. The Deans and Vice Chancellors operate School Operations Centers (SOCs) out of their administrative offices, which serve as the key communications interface between the ERG and the LSUHSC community before, during, and after an emergency. SOCs gather emergency impact data from their areas and account for their personnel, transmit reports to the ERG, and disseminate emergency instructions to constituents. SOCs communicate the location of emergency assembly points used during evacuation operations, recruit volunteers to assist with response and recovery operations, and participate in exercises to practice using these resources. SOCs play a critical role in assuring University preparedness, response, and recovery planning and training. Finally, the SOCs coordinate the planning and implementation of business continuity, resumption and recovery activities in their respective areas.
Incident Commander. The Incident Commander directs immediate response efforts at the scene of the emergency. The Incident Commander’s responsibilities are first assumed by the highest ranking individual on site. As the incident develops, the individual serving as the Incident Commander may change if warranted. The Incident Commander is responsible to quickly assess an emergency situation, determine the level of impact, assess the effect, contain the incident and assign the correct resources. The Incident Commander will keep the ERG informed on all matters pertaining to the incident on a regular basis throughout the course of the incident.
Emergency Response Floor Leaders. Floor leaders are responsible for securing facilities during an evacuation and taking accountability of personnel. Deans and Vice Chancellors are responsible for maintaining their Emergency Response Floor Leader contact information. To aid in accountability during an evacuation, each building has an “Emergency Evacuation Area”, which is the designated assembly point in the event of an evacuation.
Essential Personnel. Personnel who are required to assist with closing and opening of LSUHSC as a result of a potential or actual hurricane, or other significant event, are deemed “Essential Personnel.” They are designated by their respective Deans or Department Heads. Deans and Vice Chancellors are responsible for maintaining their Essential Personnel contact information.
Sound, timely and reliable communications are critical to a strong response to any emergency. LSUHSC faculty, staff and students must receive timely and accurate information regarding the emergency, responders and leadership must be able to communicate in order to adequately respond to the emergency, and LSUHSC must be able to communicate with the general public regarding the emergency. LSUHSC’s Crisis Communication Plan describes in detail how LSUHSC will communicate to the LSUHSC community and to the local community during an emergency.
Communications to the LSUHSC Community
The primary method of notifying faculty, staff and students of an emergency is through the Emergency Text Message System (Omnilert). These text messages are often followed by mass emails, which provide more details on the situation. The Chancellor or his designated representative, the Chair of the ERG or his designated representative, and the Director of Information Services have the authority to release text messages and mass emails. These messages will also be distributed to the LSUHSC community via the digital signs located throughout the University and the Emergency page on the LSUHSC web site. The Crisis Communication Plan includes pre-approved text messages for a variety of situations.
Communications Between Responders and the ERG
Timely communication between ERG and responders is critical to a sound response. The following will be used for communications:
- Motorola PR400 Radios. These radios are held by Facility Services and Environmental Health and Safety personnel. A radio is also maintained by University Police at their desks at the Roman Garage and School of Dentistry.
- APX6000 800 Megahertz Radios. The assignments for these radios are made by the Associate Vice Chancellor for Property and Facilities. These radios can be used for internal communication and communication with external first responders.
To facilitate timely notification of external emergencies, University Police and key LSUHSC leadership will subscribe to NOLAReady, an alert system that allows City of New Orleans officials to provide notification of life-threatening weather, evacuation or Shelter in Place information, and other emergency information.
Communications to the General Public
The Director of Information Services serves as the authorized spokesperson for LSUHSC. All public information must be coordinated and disseminated by that office's staff with assistance from other LSUHSC departments and/or personnel. Only the Chancellor, VCAA and Director of Information Services may speak on behalf of LSUHSC. Under certain circumstances, the previously named administrators may designate others as spokespersons.
During emergencies, the Director of Information Services will work with the ERG and each School/Department, as required, to gather accurate and substantial information regarding the situation and details of LSUHSC’s response. The Director of Information Services, working with local officials as appropriate, will provide information to the general public on progress toward recovery, using the LSUHSC web site, radio, television and newspapers.
CONTINUITY OF OPERATIONS
LSUHSC Schools and Departments are responsible for the protection of property, assessment of damage, and restoration of normal operations through the implementation of departmental continuity of operations plans. The following organizations have LSUHSC-wide responsibilities:
- Associate Vice Chancellor for Property and Facilities. Coordinates all services for the restoration of utilities and other support systems. Assesses damage and makes a prognosis for occupancy of the structure (s) affected by the disaster.
- Assistant Vice Chancellor for Information Technology. Coordinates support for data processing resources at the main data center and the designated recovery sites, evaluates the requirements and selects appropriate means of backing up the IT network.
- University Police. Provides law enforcement and safety and security for people and facilities, coordinates with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.
- Director, Auxiliary Services. Responsible for housing and dining facilities, and parking.
- Executive Director, Supply Chain Management. Responsible for contractual support to provide goods and services to respond to an emergency.
In the event of damage to LSUHSC buildings and grounds, the Associate Vice Chancellor for Property and Facilities shall lead a damage assessment team to determine the extent of damage, recovery activities, and relocation needs that are immediately required. He will be assisted by the Executive Director of Environmental Health and Safety, who will advise on all emergency clean-up and recovery activities regarding hazardous materials and chemicals, and the Chief of University Police, who will notify NOPD as required and lead efforts to secure the incident site(s).
When only minimal damage has occurred and relocation of activities is not required, the Director, Facility Services is responsible for all site clean-up, debris removal, and emergency or minor repairs. In the event that major remodeling or rebuilding is necessary, the Associate Director of Planning and Construction is responsible for preparation of plans, specifications or cost estimates for building remodeling, and equipment repair/replacement.
Preliminary reports regarding the cause of the loss, the extent of damage, and the plans for recovery and relocation shall be provided to the VCAA. Coordination will be initiated with Facilities Planning and Control and FEMA as required.
Dealing with a Disrupted Work Environment
In situations where due to equipment malfunction, weather, or other crisis situations, work space is uninhabitable, the Associate Vice Chancellor for Property and Facilities will make a recommendation relative to continued occupation at that location. The VCAA shall be contacted and shall make the decision whether to close parts or all of a building. If the decision is made that the work site should be vacated, the following guidelines will be followed:
- Continuity of operations plans will be implemented to facilitate continuation of services to students, faculty, staff and the public at alternate work locations within or outside of LSUHSC.
- To the extent possible, normal workflow should be maintained in the alternate location. If computers, phones, and other necessary equipment are not available, staff should engage in planning, evaluation, or training activities, which require staff presence but not operational equipment. They also may be assigned other temporary duties to aid in the recovery, as appropriate.
- If none of the above options is feasible, staff may be required to utilize paid leave or unpaid leave, during periods of disruption. It is the University's intent to avoid this option if possible. Deans and department heads are responsible for monitoring the availability of the original workspace and for notifying staff and faculty when it is appropriate to return to the regular work area. Only the Chancellor will make the decision regarding alternative class schedules, including cancellations and delays.
MAINTENANCE OF THE PLAN
The Executive Director, EH&S is responsible for coordinating the continuous updating of the ERP. Each department or school identified in the ERP that will play an active role in responding to an emergency will prepare and continuously update their area plans as needed to ensure timely and effective delivery of disaster response and recovery services by the organization during a disaster. When a plan is updated, a copy will be submitted to the Executive Director, Environmental Health and Safety.
Emergency Planning Committee. The Committee will make recommendations for changes to this plan to the Chancellor; review preparations for the upcoming hurricane season, to include updates of school and department plans and updates to essential personnel contact lists; and assess and provide feedback on the results of drills, exercises and actual events. The Committee’s membership is as follows:
- Executive Director, Environmental Health and Safety, Chair
- Chancellor (ex-officio)
- Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
- Dean, School of Medicine
- Dean, School of Dentistry
- Dean, School of Allied Health Professions
- Dean, School of Nursing
- Dean, School of Public Health
- Vice Chancellor for Administrative, Community and Security Affairs
- Vice Chancellor for Clinical Affairs
- Associate Vice Chancellor for Property and Facilities
- Assistant Vice Chancellor for Information Technology
- Associate Vice Chancellor for Business Development
- Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic and Multicultural Affairs
- President of the Faculty Senate
- Director, Office of Research Services
- Director of Information Services
- Medical Director for Emergency Readiness, Interim LSU Hospital
- Clinical Veterinarian, Division of Animal Care
- Associate Dean of Research, School of Medicine
Exercises and Training. Trained and knowledgeable personnel are essential for the prompt and proper execution of LSUHSC’s Emergency Response Plan. LSUHSC will ensure that all response personnel have thorough understanding of their assigned responsibilities in a disaster situation, as well as how their role and responsibilities interface with other response components of the ERP. All personnel will be provided with the necessary training to execute those responsibilities in an effective and responsible manner.
Exercises will be conducted as needed to allow all persons involved in emergency response to practice their roles to better understand emergency operations and their responsibilities under emergency conditions. Exercises will consist of table-top, practical and full scale staged events as deemed appropriate. Such exercises will be coordinated by the Executive Director, Environmental Health and Safety. Smaller-scale exercises will also be held as needed to allow defined groups to practice their functional role under emergency conditions. Results and lessons learned will be documented. Participation will be documented by a signed roster.