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October 6, 2009

U.S. Department of Education grant aids emergency planning

Stanford will use a $450,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to enhance the university's emergency planning and preparations and to create models that can be widely shared with other colleges and universities.

Keith Perry, manager of the Office of Emergency Management and project manager for the grant, said the funding is part of an initiative called the Emergency Management for Higher Education (EMHE) Grant Program, sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and implemented through the Department of Education.

EMHE grants, which are for 18 months, can be used to plan for such threats as natural disasters, terrorist attacks, campus violence, suicides and infectious disease outbreaks.

Stanford, one of only 26 colleges and universities to receive funding this year, will focus on four areas of emergency planning. Perry will be working on the grant with principal investigator Larry Gibbs, associate vice provost for Environmental Health and Safety; Ira Friedman, director of the Vaden Health Center; and Laura Wilson, chief of police for the Department of Public Safety.

Stanford's first focus, Perry said, will be a campus-wide risk assessment, an updating of the university's campus emergency plans and an expansion of the Stanford Community Emergency Response Team (SCERT). SCERT volunteers are trained in basic skills that are important in a disaster when emergency services are unavailable. In addition, campus officials will work to mitigate the risk of damage to valuable equipment during an earthquake.

The second focus will be on campus leadership development for administrators and staff members whose responsibilities include emergency response.

The third focus will expand the university's capability to provide medical care to the campus community after a disaster. This program would divert less-injured individuals from overwhelmed area emergency rooms and hospitals by treating them locally. A new program and model will be developed in concert with the Vaden Health Center as an extension of its services. In addition, the university will improve its infectious disease planning to encompass such nontraditional groups as students at summer camps, infants and children of staff and students in on-campus daycare centers, and students with chronic mental health conditions.

Finally, Perry said the grant allows the university, through the Department of Public Safety, to expand and refine its threat evaluations and assessments. Through such assessments, the university is able to better identify students whose mental health may put them and others at risk and to offer them assistance.

"This is really a valuable initiative by the Department of Education to reach out to colleges and universities. We're very grateful for this support," Perry said.



Kate Chesley, Stanford News Service: (650) 725-3697,


Keith Perry, Manager, Emergency Health and Safety Training and Communications, Stanford University: (650) 723-0448;

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