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With a $100,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM), Old Dominion University is among the first universities in Virginia to develop a University Hazard Mitigation Plan. The plan is modeled on the Building a Disaster-Resistant University guide published in 2003 by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Two major portions of the plan are complete, including drafts of the Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (HIRA) and the Mitigation Strategy. The HIRA identifies the natural hazards that could affect Old Dominion, assesses the extent to which the university is vulnerable to the effects of these hazards, and serves as a basis for the development and prioritization of potential mitigation measures. Additionally, the strategy recommends a course of action to eliminate, reduce or manage the effects of the hazards on the university.

Old Dominion will now submit the draft plan first to the VDEM, and then to FEMA, for approval.

"This grant provides an important opportunity to focus upon reducing Old Dominion's vulnerability to hazardous events," said Robert L. Fenning, vice president for administration and finance. "When coupled with our current emergency plans and recovery procedures, the hazard mitigation plan enables the campus to better protect itself from future disasters."

Comprehensive in nature, the plan includes natural hazards such as hurricanes, flooding, thunderstorms and winter storms. In addition, it examines the vulnerability of Old Dominion to building fires, hazardous materials spills, and terrorism, among other manmade hazards.

Led by the Office of Public Safety, an advisory committee of a cross-section of university personnel developed the plan in conjunction with Dewberry, an emergency management consulting company headquartered in Fairfax, Va. Committee members include: William Quinn, Rudolph Burwell, Robbie Cross, Ken Blow, Michael Frizzell, Danny Gavin, Dawn Hamilton, Roland Harrison, Glenda Humphreys, Derek Krepp, Richard LeMoal, Jennifer Mullen, Robert Olson, Russ Pearson, Glenn Wilson, Stephanie Woolf, Vanessa Rodriguez, Cecelia Tucker, Geneva Walker-Johnson.

"A key ingredient in developing a successful plan involves committed and competent people," said Assistant Chief of Police Rudolph Burwell, who managed the project for Old Dominion. "The advisory board has exemplified this requirement. Each member contributed significantly to every phase of this plan to ensure a successful outcome and we have forged stronger and lasting partnerships throughout our community."

The proposed goals of the Old Dominion University plan are:

1. Update emergency operations plan to reflect current conditions and ensure compliance with National Incident Management System standards. Pay particular attention to the evacuation component.

2. Update continuity of operations plan to reflect current conditions and ensure compliance with National Incident Management System standards.

3. Recruit and train Campus Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) to respond to disasters on campus.

4. Create generator purchase plan prioritizing residence halls, research facilities and critical administrative support buildings. Ensure that buildings are equipped to use generators as they are purchased (i.e., hook-ups are installed).

5. Hire or appoint an Emergency Services Manager (ESM) who can be responsible for overseeing all emergency management activities.

6. Conduct bi-annual exercises and simulations.

7. Consider establishing a designated fund for emergency management. The fund could be used for mitigation activities before and/or after a disaster. In addition, the fund could be used to provide emergency assistance following a disaster.

8. Continue development of business continuity plans for critical University business, financial and other key operations to allow them to resume activity within a predetermined time.

9. Upgrade older structures with automatic sprinkler systems and fire alarms connected to a central dispatch. Prioritize multi-story buildings and dormitories. Base additional prioritization on information provided in HIRA.

10. Undertake non-structural mitigation measures for vulnerable buildings on campus.

This article was posted on: April 3, 2007

Old Dominion University
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Room 100 Koch Hall Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0018
Telephone: 757-683-3114

Old Dominion University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution.