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Stanford Report, April 30, 2003

Satellite Operations Centers asked to revise emergency plans

The university's emergency preparedness Satellite Operations Centers should revise their emergency plans by June 15, Larry Gibbs, associate vice provost for environmental health and safety, told SOC representatives at a workshop April 17.

Officials from the Environmental Health and Safety department will then review the revised plans over the summer in time for the next universitywide emergency exercise, which is scheduled for Nov. 12, Gibbs said at the workshop, which also featured presentations on post-disaster building inspections and public safety.

Gibbs noted that in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, emergency planning has taken on a new level of flexibility to include responses to terrorism, bomb threats, hazardous materials threats, protests and issues such as recent concerns over SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome). All emergency plans should be generic or "all-hazard" and address "preparedness, response and recovery," Gibbs said.

He noted that emergencies have been categorized into three levels:

  • Minor incident, which is resolved with internal resources and does not disrupt programs;
  • Major incident, which affects a sizable area, life safety or critical functions and activates the university's Situation Triage and Assessment Team (STAT); and
  • Disaster, which involves the entire campus and activates the university's Emergency Operations Center, all 26 SOCs and all departments, and is coordinated with local, county, state and federal agencies.

Public Safety Director Laura Wilson also discussed the expanded scope of emergencies that can affect campus; for example, so-called "B-NICE" incidents -- Biological agent exposure, Nuclear release, Incendiary event, Chemical release or Explosive device.

"I'm the person who scares people," she said.

The good news, Wilson said, is that Stanford has "the cognitive ability to formulate responses to these types of events." However, she added, developing specific plans "will take time, resources, commitment and a determination" to assess needs and priorities. "Lack of resources, not cognitive ability, will be the limiting factor of Stanford's ability to respond to emergency situations."

Like Gibbs, Wilson urged SOCs to review their emergency plans, including considering developing security teams similar to Building Assessment Teams. She said her department can provide basic security and coordination training to groups interested in forming such teams. Interested offices should contact Wilson at Laura.Wilson@stanford.edu.