EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS AT OCAD UNIVERSITY
Webster’s defines Emergency as “a sudden, generally unexpected occurrence or set of circumstances requiring immediate action”.
While no two occurrences will ever be identical, they may well share common aspects. It is the commonality of occurrences that this Emergency Preparedness Plan strives to address.
The Emergency Preparedness Plan (EPP) is intended to be a framework governing OCAD University’s response to emergency situations. Specific responses to each unique emergency cannot be fully planned in advance because it’s impossible to anticipate every emergency. The EPP provides a systematic approach to begin the process of responding to emergency situations and, more than anything, a framework for decision-making.
The entire EPP is required reading for administrative and academic department heads and their designates, with specific sections assigned for reading and regular review by all faculty and staff in their departments. The EPP may be downloaded here. (PDF)
This document is only a starting point. The next step will be to develop departmental plans (Business Continuity Plan) for each individual administrative or academic unit’s response to emergencies, depending on specific expertise and areas of responsibility. The nature of an emergency will dictate which departments will need to be involved, and which departmental plans will be initiated. For example, the death of an employee on campus would require the involvement of Human Resources, among others, but not that of IT Services or Office of the Registrar.
The EPP is also intended to be constantly evolving. After each emergency situation, a systematic debriefing meeting will occur. Issues that have occurred in previous situations will be reviewed and identified for possible inclusion in the EPP. This meeting will also assist in identifying any deficiencies in the overall EPP, or in any of the departmental plans.
Regular “table-top” exercises, both large-scale and small, will be held to practice the procedures set out in the EPP. Such exercises are simulations held in a conference room that take the members of emergency response teams through simulated emergencies, step-by-step, to provide an opportunity to respond, and make decisions, just as they would be required to as a real emergency unfolded. This will provide a safe learning environment which allows participants to experience what might be required of them in an actual emergency, and help identify – and remedy – any gaps, failures or errors in the EPP.
The EPP will be presented to the OCAD U community in a tiered approach. It will not be necessary for every student and employee to read the entire document. However, all members of the community, as well as visitors, will need to be made aware of what to do in case of an emergency, so instructions will be summarized and posted throughout the campus. This will include short emergency instruction cards to be placed by emergency phones to outline the most essential actions required during an emergency. Quick reference guides will be provided to all faculty, staff and managers.
Future versions of the EPP will be brought to the Board of Governors, for information or approval (depending on the scope of changes to the plan), approximately once per year. We anticipate that each year’s document will become progressively clearer and more thorough, as ongoing input is received from many sources, and as the OCAD U community works together to build its capacity to respond to, successfully recover from, and learn from emergency situations.