Written by Ed Osborn
Willimantic, Conn. - U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano today announced the selection of Eastern Connecticut State University to participate in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Campus Resilience Pilot Program (CR Pilot). Eastern will join six other colleges and universities nationwide to help develop and pilot an emergency preparedness and resilience planning program, facilitated by community engagement, local stakeholders, campus leadership and students.
"Eastern will serve as a valuable partner in our efforts to help colleges and universities prepare for, respond to and recover from crisis and emergency situations," said Secretary Napolitano. "Through its work with DHS, Eastern will help us further develop best practices, resources and tools needed to assist campus communities nationwide in their resilience and emergency planning processes."
"We are very pleased that our University was chosen by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as one of only seven colleges and universities to be part of this national pilot program," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. "Emergency preparation is a major part of our commitment to campus safety. We are honored to help develop best practices for improving campus preparedness on a national scale."
The CR Pilot will emphasize the importance of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's "Whole Community" approach to planning and resilience efforts, and will highlight the needs of various student populations. The program will bring together school officials, students and members of the local community to discuss new, innovative approaches to campus resilience and emergency planning, and will build upon Eastern's existing efforts in this area.
"Eastern Connecticut State University is committed to being prepared for any emergency or disaster," said Jeffrey Garewski, director of public safety. "Key university personnel have received Incident Command System/National Incident Management System training and additional training will continue as required to keep the university compliant with federal regulations. Originally developed from our Influenza Pandemic Continuity of Operations Plan, Eastern's Incident Management Team oversees the University's preparation to effectively sustain critical campus services in the event of a pandemic or other major emergency."
Eastern also employs an "Eastern Alert" emergency messaging system which uses several methods of communicating emergency notifications to the University community, including public address capabilities.
The University's information technology infrastructure also allows network access from remote computers so personnel can access their desktop computers from home or another location. Personnel providing critical services have priority for accessing the University's network so they can continue business operations if campus access is not possible.
Eastern has also established a Campus Community Emergency Response Team made up of interested faculty and staff members, who have received training and are equipped with the necessary tools to assist first responders at campus incidents.
"The key to effective implementation of our emergency plan is communication between key departments and providing accurate information to our constituents in a timely manner," said Garewski. "We are committed to the safety of our campus community and maintaining the continuity of our operations in the event of a crisis situation."
For more information, visit www.dhs.gov.