Tag Archives: Critical Event Preparedness and Response

Photo Gallery: Disaster Preparedness Drill

On Friday Aug. 25, Georgia Regents University took part in a disaster preparedness drill simulating the occurrence of a Code Orange emergency.

These drills, an essential part of guaranteeing the safety of GRU and GRHealth faculty, staff and employees, require dedication on the part of all team areas. It is crucial for everyone to take their role seriously, and perhaps no group took the exercise more seriously than the Decon Team.

The following photo gallery highlights their training and response to our (thankfully) fictional emergency.

CERT program certifies disaster responders

Georgia Regents Medical Center on-call chaplain Linda Hamilton knows exactly what to do should disaster strike in the hospital, at Georgia Regents University, in Richmond County or at her home.

She’ll use the knowledge and skills she learned through GRU-GRHealth’s inaugural Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training program to respond and assist as needed. Hamilton was one of 11 that completed the program and received certification this week.

“I now have more tools to work with in helping people,” said Hamilton, an Army veteran. “In a catastrophe, chaplains are still needed because we consider the wholeness of the person (not just their physical well being).”

Offered by the office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response in partnership with Richmond County Emergency Management, the training included disaster preparedness, disaster fire suppression, disaster medical operations, light search and rescue operations, disaster psychology and team organization, and disaster simulation.

The CERT program was offered free of charge to students, faculty, staff and volunteers.

Alex Cordray said the training was “a little out of what I normally do – I’m a computer nerd – but it’s all about teamwork. Teamwork is absolutely important because no one can do it alone.”

GRMC Emergency Management Supervisor Kevin Wells said the CERT program will be offered again in the fall.

Facilities Services Vice President Phil Howard was on hand Monday to present each person who participated in the program a certificate of completion.

“I know the community will benefit from it, and hopefully you benefited from it,” he said.

Email Wells at kewells@gru.edu or call 729-2069 to sign up for the fall class.

CEPaR Corner: Health care solution to disaster

Following the tragic events of September 11, the Georgia Hospital Association convened a group to explore gaps in emergency preparedness. The group recognized a disaster event may create a need for patient evacuation or transfer. Such an event could also create a lack of staff, equipment, supplies, or other essential services. As a result, the GHA Board of Directors recommended all hospitals in Georgia enter into a Mutual Aid Compact.

In 2002, the Mutual Aid Task Force determined a regional hospital system was needed to most effectively accomplish the objectives of the MAC and created Regional Coordinating Hospitals. Under this system, all Georgia hospitals are connected by contract in a network of regions that serve the people during times of disaster.

An RCH is a hospital that has contracted to assist other hospitals and coalition partners in its region through coordination of patient transfers and coordination of shared personnel, equipment, and other essential resources or services during a disaster or evacuation.

Georgia Regents Medical Center and its affiliates are in Region G, which consists of hospitals and health care facilities within a 12-county area of the Central Savannah River Area. GRMC was selected as this Region’s Regional Coordinating Hospital. Over the past two years, the RCH has been instrumental in forming a health care coalition. Representatives of all health care facilities of the Region meet on a quarterly basis to discuss, plan, and organize for disasters and how to best serve the people of the region during times of disaster. The coalition and region are led by Joe Webber, staff member of the Critical Event Preparedness and Response department at Georgia Regents University. Under his guidance, several positive steps have been taken for community preparedness.

A Mass Fatalities Plan now exists for this region that outlines how the hospitals and other facilities will respond should a disaster result in a large number of fatalities. This plan includes cooperation and actions by both the county coroners and Public Health. Region G was one of the first in Georgia to create such a plan.

Another result of the Region G network has been the creation of an Evacuation Plan. This plan identifies methodology for the evacuation of a single hospital or hospitals and assures there will be facilities available to receive patients. It also provides plans for the sharing of staff and equipment between these facilities.

These are just examples of the many ways the Region G coalition can create positive plans for the benefit of its population during times of disaster. Webber and the coalition members will be studying needs of the region in the coming months to formulate other plans.

Plans cannot be carried out without the proper equipment, and this has been another positive area of Region G planning. Over the years, the Region has ordered equipment identified by its partner facilities, utilizing federal grant funds awarded yearly, in order to assure the region is well stocked and has needed supplies. Following last year’s ice storms, for example, the need for sleeping cots in hospitals was identified. We now have over 200 such cots in a regional cache, which can be used by any hospital or facility in need. Likewise, the Region has ordered ventilators, ham radios, and other necessary equipment.

Become a member of the GRU Campus Emergency Response Team (CERT)

In partnership with Richmond County Emergency Management, the office of Critical Events Preparedness & Response (CEPaR) will be hosting the first CERT training program here at GRU and GRHealth. Students, Faculty, Staff & Volunteers are encouraged to participate.

Upon successful completion of the course, participants will be given an Emergency Response Kit and will be prepared to assist their family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers in those crucial minutes and hours just after disaster strikes. As a member of the GRU CERT, you will be prepared to respond and assist throughout GRU and GRHealth.

The first course will begin on May 7, 2015 and will meet each Thursday thereafter from 6 to 9 pm through June 18, 2015, followed by an exercise to practice all that was learned. This course is being offered FREE OF CHARGE to all GRU / GRHealth Students, Faculty, Staff, & Volunteers. We will need between 25 and 30 folks to make this class work. If you are interested in attending this inaugural class, simply send an email to: CEPAR@gru.edu.

Sign up for emergency texts with GR Alerts

In an emergency, where would you turn for information?

GR Alerts is the alert system Georgia Regents University uses to send urgent emails, voice messages, and text messages to students, faculty, and staff.

“In a real-world emergency we turn to GR Alerts to notify our community of threats,” said Joe Webber, Critical Event Preparedness and Response (CEPaR) Coordinator. “Text messages are one of the best and most reliable tools we have to send mass messages quickly, so we’re asking people to please update their contacts with a mobile number. It could save your life.”

The notification system is only used to disseminate breaking developments in an emergency such as severe weather, safety issues affecting the hospital or campuses, or crime.

In order to receive urgent texts, students, faculty and staff must include an accurate, up-to-date mobile number in their Human Resources system (SoftServ, Pounce, or Unicorn). To sign up:


  • Go to gru.edu/alerts
  • Sign in to your HR system
  • Navigate to employee contact information
  • Update your contacts with a mobile number in the SMS Phone (Text) field
  • Receive text alerts in an emergency


The GR Alerts system is tested by the Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response and GRU Public Safety at regular intervals and during drills on campus. Up to four email addresses and 10 phone numbers can be registered for each person, allowing employees to get notifications on both personal and work cell phones.


For more information or to sign up, see gru.edu/alerts.

Training opportunity for volunteers needed to help during a crisis

Each year, hundreds of communities across the country find themselves in crisis mode awaiting the response of fire departments, EMS, and police. Unfortunately, during these crisis events, public safety is overtasked. Compounded with downed trees and other obstructions, the response can be delayed for several hours or, in worse case scenarios, several days.

Identifying a need for early response in these types of events, the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) was born. As an extension of the Citizens Corp and operated through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), CERT programs have had tremendous success and contributed to hundreds of lives saved since its inception in 2003. Today, there are over 2,200 CERT programs in the United States, including two in the CSRA. CERT members undergo a formalized training, which teaches several emergency response topics such as Search & Rescue, Light Fire Suppression, and Disaster First Aid and Medical Triage.

In partnership with Richmond County Emergency Management, the Office of Critical Events Preparedness & Response (CEPaR) will be hosting the first CERT training program here at GRU and GRHealth. Students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to participate. Upon successful completion of the course, participants will be given an Emergency Response Kit and will be prepared to assist their family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers in those crucial minutes and hours just after disaster strikes. As a member of GRU CERT, you will be prepared to respond and assist throughout GRU and GRHealth.

The first course will begin on May 7, 2015, and will meet each Thursday thereafter from 6 to 9 p.m. through June 18, 2015, followed by an exercise to practice all that was learned. This course is being offered FREE OF CHARGE to all GRU/GRHealth students, faculty, and staff. We will need between 25 and 30 folks to make this class work. If you are interested in attending this inaugural class, click here.  Once you are certain you can attend, simply send an email to CEPAR@gru.edu. A formal registration link will be sent out the first week of April for official registration.

Are you interested in becoming an Emergency Response Volunteer but don’t have time for the CERT classes? Consider becoming an Amateur Radio Operator. These volunteers are crucial during any disaster. Within our own emergency plans at GRU, we utilize these volunteers to facilitate communications with local and state partners. For more information, click here.

CePAR Corner: Situational Awareness increases safety and security

What is situational awareness and why should I care?

There are lots of “textbook sounding” definitions describing what situational awareness is, but simply put, situation awareness is knowing what’s going on around you. More and more it seems the majority of us spend an increasing amount of time and energy on ensuring we are aware of what’s going on.  Social Media has taken this concept to the extreme with an abundance of individuals more than willing to share what is going on in their lives no matter how mundane it may be. The appetite of others to read, and then share that knowledge with others is large.  The availability of information has never been as great as it is now.  The majority of us have the capability to monitor news feeds or look up information within an instance just by pulling out our phones.  Does that mean that we are all exponentially more aware of situations?  Probably not, in fact, it may lead us to have a reduced level of situational awareness, at least in terms of our immediate surroundings, because we are buried in our phones and not cognizant of what may be happening in our immediate vicinity.

I was a student bus driver for the University of Georgia while I pursued my undergraduate degree. I recall an incident where I threw all of the passengers on my bus forward because I had to stand on the breaks to keep from running over this guy who stepped off the sidewalk. So here’s the picture: group of students gathered on the sidewalk waiting for the approaching bus, approaching bus, and a guy walking and reading a newspaper who steps right into the path of the moving 40-foot bus to avoid the group of students. The 40-foot bus also had obnoxiously loud squealing brakes.  So this guy’s pursuit of information almost got him flattened. So lesson to be learned: don’t keep your head buried in your phone or newspaper, and you won’t be hit by a bus, or at least have a reduced chance of something else bad happening that could easily be avoided if you just looked while you walked and were aware of your surroundings.

Being aware of your surroundings and familiar with “what’s normal” will impact your response to various stimuli.  We are all creatures of habit and inevitably fall into some sort of routine.  When things are as they should be or at least how they’ve been in the past, we feel safe and secure.  When something new is introduced into our familiar environment, hopefully, we notice, hey, that’s different.  This leads us to being able to articulate why something is suspicious or at least contributes to a gut instinct that some something isn’t right, or we dismiss the difference because we don’t perceive a threat.

Situational awareness is an integral part of success in many different applications. You’re much more likely to have success if you can answer the following questions: “What is happening? Why is it happening? What will happen next? and What can I do about it?” no matter the situation.  This concept can also be applied to team and workplace environments. Members of a team must have accurate expectations of individual performance, anticipate the needs of the members, the need for resources, and maintain the ability to adapt.  This is especially true during emergency situations.  Often during stressful times individuals experience “tunnel vision,” focusing on one element of a situation and losing sight of the overall objective.  Tunnel vision is the opposite of situational awareness.  It’s difficult for an individual to recognize they have developed tunnel vision because they are so focused on one element of a situation and it degrades their ability to view and address the issue in its entirety.

Recognizing and appreciating the benefits of situational awareness and the consequences of its loss is a great first step toward avoiding potentially harmful complacency.  Individually, if we evaluate our own level of situational awareness and commit to increasing our awareness then, collectively, we will all benefit from having a safer and more secure environment in which to work and learn.

Make a family emergency plan now

disaster-plan-graphic2Your family may not be together when a disaster strikes, so it is important to plan in advance: How will you get to a safe place? How will you contact one another? How will you get back together? And what will you do in different situations? For more information, read  Family Communication .

Ready.gov has made it simple to construct a family emergency plan. Download the Family Communication Plan for Parents and Kids (PDF), fill in the sections, and print it or email it to your family and friends.

You should also inquire about emergency plans at places where your family spends time, such as  at work, daycare and school, faith organizations, and sports events as well as commuting. If no plans exist, consider volunteering to help create one. Talk to community leaders, your colleagues, neighbors, and members of faith or civic organizations about how you can work together in the event of an emergency. You will be better prepared to safely reunite your family and loved ones during an emergency if you think ahead and communicate with others in advance. For more information read about school and workplace plans.

Have an emergency plan for traveling between work and home and other regularly visited locations.  Download the Commuter Emergency Plan (PDF).

Family Communication Plan

Because you and your family may not be together when a disaster hits, it’s important to create a communication plan to help you connect and get help. Complete a contact card for family members. Have them keep these cards in a wallet, purse, or backpack.

More Tips:

  • Identify an out-of-town contact, such as a friend or relative, whom family members can call to let them know they are safe. It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, because phone lines can be jammed. An out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.
  • Teach your family members how to text. It may seem like second nature to some of us, but not everyone texts. During an emergency, it’s often easier to get a text message delivered than a phone call.
  • Subscribe to an emergency alert system. Check with your local health department or emergency management agency to see if there is one offered for your area. Post emergency telephone numbers by home phones or save them in your cell phone (fire, police, ambulance, etc.).
  • Teach children how and when to call 911 for help.

Create a Family Disaster Plan

Planning for a disaster means knowing what to do in any situation. Whether you have to evacuate your home or need to shelter in place, it’s important to have a plan.

Before creating your disaster plan, it’s important to know what types of emergencies are likely to occur in your area and the best ways to respond. For example, if tornadoes are common in your area, does your family know what the warning signs are and where to take shelter? Call your Local Red Cross chapter or Emergency Management Agency for more information.

Because different disasters may require you to go to different places, make sure you identify a meeting place in your neighborhood, a meeting place just outside your neighborhood, and a meeting place out of town. Review these plans with all members of your family and don’t forget to consider what you will do with your pets if they are not allowed in emergency shelters.

More Tips:

  • Learn about your community’s warning signals: What do they sound like and what should you do when you hear them?
  • Determine the best escape routes from your home. Find two ways out of each room.
  • Find the safe spots in your home for each type of disaster. For example, during an earthquake, you would want to practice “drop, cover, and hold on” under a sturdy desk or table. During a tornado, you would want to seek shelter in a lower-level, windowless room.
  • Show each family member how and when to turn off the water, gas, and electricity.
  • Teach each family member how to use the fire extinguisher, and show them where it’s kept.
  • Practice your plan by quizzing your kids periodically and conduct fire and other emergency drills.
  • Check your emergency supplies throughout the year to replace batteries, food, and water as needed.

Additional Ways to Prepare

  • Check if you have adequate insurance coverage for flooding or structural damage to your home and property.
  • Install smoke detectors on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms. Test and recharge your fire extinguisher(s) and smoke detectors according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Install at least one battery-powered or battery backup carbon monoxide alarm in your home, preferably near bedrooms. Test the battery at least twice a year, such as when you change the time on your clocks.
  • Take a Red Cross first aid and CPR class .

If a disaster strikes your community, you might not have access to food, water, or electricity for some time. You should have emergency kits for your home, office, school, and car. Here are some steps you can take to help your family stay safer and healthier during and after a disaster.


  • Consider storing two weeks-worth of food supplies. You may be able to use many of the canned goods and dry mixes already in your cupboard.
  • Store at least a three-day supply of water for each member of your family – that means one gallon per person per day.
  • Don’t forget about pets; they’ll need food and water, too.
  • Learn where your gas, electric, and water shut-off locations are and how to turn them off.

Pack an emergency supply kit. Here’s what you’ll need:

Food and Water

Water(http://emergency.cdc.gov/preparedness/kit/water/index.asp) — one gallon per person, per day


  • Flashlight
  • Battery powered, solar, or hand crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Extra batteries

Health and safety supplies

  • First aid kit
  • Medicine (seven-day supply), other medical supplies, and paperwork about any serious or ongoing medical condition
  • Emergency blanket
  • Soap, toothbrush, and other personal care items

You should also keep:

  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Multipurpose tools
  • Copies of important documents such as insurance cards and immunization records
  • Extra cash
  • Map(s) of the area
  • Extra set of car keys and house keys

If you have babies, children, or someone with special medical needs in your family, you should add:

  • Medical supplies (e.g., hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, or a cane)
  • Baby supplies (e.g., bottles, formula, baby food, and diapers)
  • Games and activities for children

Keep it fresh and ready to use.

Once you’ve gathered your supplies, pack the items in easy-to-carry containers. Clearly label the containers, and store them where you can reach them easily. During a disaster, you may need to get your emergency supply kit quickly — whether you are sheltering at home or evacuating. Make sure to check expiration dates on food, water, medicine, and batteries throughout the year.

Involve children

Involving children in getting ready is the first step in helping them know what to do in an emergency. There are many ways children can help.

It’s important that you and your family know what to do before, during, and after an emergency. This means understanding what emergencies are likely to occur in your area and specific ways to respond. You should also understand the ways you can get information about potential threats, such as through text alerts, emergency sirens in your community, or other methods.

In addition to understanding how you will be informed of potential threats, you need to understand the difference between various weather alerts:

  • A watch gives advance notice that conditions are favorable for dangerous weather. If a severe storm watch or other type of watch is issued for your area, be alert for changing weather conditions.
  • A warning requires immediate action and is only used when severe weather is about to strike.

Follow the links below to learn more about the different types of disasters that may happen and how to respond. You can also find more information on how to sign up for alerts in your area at ready.gov/alerts

Don’t get stranded unprepared

Last year, an ice storm paralyzed several cities and left thousands of motorists stranded on Interstates across Georgia. Last week, a motorist found herself stranded on a rural road because of an undetected fuel leak. Recently, hundreds of motorists found themselves stuck because two freeways in Los Angeles were closed due to a high-rise fire.

What do all these people have in common? They found themselves stranded and had to make do until help arrived or the roads reopened. None of them left their homes planning on becoming stranded. In the worst of the above scenarios, motorists found themselves camping in their cars for two days.

emergencykitWhat if you find yourself stranded in your car with no immediate help available? Would you have enough supplies on hand?

Many of us have an emergency kit for our cars but tend to put only automotive items in them. But what about things we need for ourselves?

Emergency blankets are inexpensive  and can be folded to fit in a glove box, small pack, or duffel bag. Most car door map pockets can easily hold 3-4 bottles of water each. A flashlight or two is an excellent addition. And a wind-up radio/phone charger can reduce the number of times you have to crank your car. If your plan includes using the motor to heat the car and provide light, radio, and a charger, what will you do when you run out of gas?

There’s also the need for food. Options range from a box of granola bars to camping foods such as heater and freeze-dried meals. Keep in mind, though, that freeze-dried products will require more water to reconstitute and they often require boiling water to heat. There are other forms of self-contained meals that do not require water. A simple Internet search for “self-contained heated meal” will yield a variety of inexpensive options.

Placing your emergency kit into a small pack is a good idea, because, should you need to leave the safety of your car, you can take your supplies with you.

If your pets often travel with you, add some items for them. A can of food and a collapsible bowl for water will keep them fed and hydrated.

For more information on building an emergency “go” kit, go to ready.gov.

Winter Home Preparedness

It is finally happening. For the past few days, there has been a little nip of cooler air in the area, and this signals cold weather may be around the corner. With that realization in mind, it is now time to prepare for winter weather; particularly winter storms. Preparation should be in three areas: supplies, equipment, and communication.

You should have enough supplies to survive if you find yourself unable to leave your house for a few days. Make sure you have good quality flashlights and lamps with fresh batteries. In case your flashlight gives out or you run out of batteries, you can light your home the old-fashioned way: with candles. So also consider that you will need to stock up on matches, since lighters can run out of fuel or break. Make sure you also stock up on nonperishable foods such as canned soups and vegetables, powdered food, and grains such as rice and pasta. You should have enough to last your family at least three or four days. Also, purchase a few gallon jugs and fill them with tap water in case your pipes freeze. And don’t forget prescription medicines. Like food, it is always wise to have enough to last a few days, and you can’t wait until a storm hits to have these; they should already be on hand.

Another item that should always be on hand is a first aid kit. You never know what kind of injuries or emergencies will happen, so make sure you have sterile bandages, disinfectant, antibiotic ointment, and over-the-counter painkillers available.

You have to consider that at some point during winter months, you may be without electricity.Backup equipment should, therefore, be available. One little-thought-of, but vital, piece of equipment is an electric can  opener. You may find yourself with plenty of canned food but no means of opening the cans. Therefore, make sure you have a manual can opener as well. And while we are talking about food supply, how can you prepare meals if the electric stove has no electricity supply? A camping stove or grill is a wise investment for such situations. Be sure, however, to use it with proper ventilation to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning and have plenty of backup fuel on hand.

Finally, let’s discuss communication. If a winter storm hits and takes out the electricity, consider how communication becomes even more  necessary.  It is vital to have means of communication with the outside world and family, as well as to be able to keep track of weather reports. Therefore, you must have devices to make this possible. In order to keep up with the latest news without wall power, you should have a battery operated radio or a motion charging radio. A cellphone with a cord or a portable cellphone charger also becomes a necessity. Such a device assures that those vital calls to family members are possible.

If we make such preparations now, before a storm hits, we should have no fear of its occurrence. Many of the items mentioned above should be on hand not only for winter storms but other emergency situations, and prudent thinking now will help you avoid panic later.