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Campus Emergency Management

Emergency management is the managerial function charged with creating the framework within which communities reduce vulnerability to hazards and cope with disasters.

Campus Emergency Management’s primary function is to provide campus level planning, training, and emergency management program coordination and implementation. Coordination includes ensuring proper integration of local, state, and federal prevention, preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation efforts. This includes establishing the framework that allows for an integrated approach to prevention, preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation by UTHSC units. This is primarily accomplished by providing guidance in the Campus Emergency Management Plan and close coordination with key university response units.

It is directed by UT SYSTEM POLICY SA-0200 which states in part:

To provide university officials guidelines to assist campuses/institutes/units to develop and maintain plans and procedures that meet emergency prevention/mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery requirements within the National Incident Management System and the Tennessee Emergency Management Plan. These plans and procedures will help ensure that all campuses/institutes/units are able to respond appropriately in the case of emergencies or disasters which could occur within or around the university community in order to minimize negative effects on persons and property and facilitate recovery from these incidents.

The University of Tennessee System has adopted the National Incident Management System (NIMS) standards, and has directed that each University is required to develop a comprehensive emergency management plan that meets federal and state requirements.

The purpose of the NIMS is to provide a common approach for managing incidents. The concepts contained herein provide for a flexible but standardized set of incident management practices with emphasis on common principles, a consistent approach to operational structures and supporting mechanisms, and an integrated approach to resource management.

The National Incident Management System (NIMS) is a systematic, proactive approach to guide departments and agencies at all levels of government, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector to work together seamlessly and manage incidents involving all threats and hazards—regardless of cause, size, location, or complexity—in order to reduce loss of life, property and harm to the environment. The NIMS is the essential foundation to the National Preparedness System (NPS) and provides the template for the management of incidents and operations in support of all five National Planning Frameworks. Use the images below for direct links to all pages within the NIMS website.

The Incident Command System (ICS) is a component of NIMS, and is a management system designed to enable effective and efficient domestic incident management by integrating a combination of facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications operating within a common organizational structure. ICS is normally structured to facilitate activities in five major functional areas: command, operations, planning, logistics, Intelligence & Investigations, finance and administration. It is a fundamental form of management, with the purpose of enabling incident managers to identify the key concerns associated with the incident—often under urgent conditions—without sacrificing attention to any component of the command system.

ICS was developed in the 1970s following a series of catastrophic fires in California's urban interface. Property damage ran into the millions, and many people died or were injured. The personnel assigned to determine the causes of these outcomes studied the case histories and discovered that response problems could rarely be attributed to lack of resources or failure of tactics. Surprisingly, studies found that response problems were far more likely to result from inadequate management than from any other single reason. The Incident Command System:

  • Is a standardized management tool for meeting the demands of small or large emergency or nonemergency situations.
  • Represents "best practices" and has become the standard for emergency management across the country.
  • May be used for planned events, natural disasters, and acts of terrorism.
  • Is a key feature of the National Incident Management System (NIMS).

ICS principles to emergency management are reflected in the overall Campus Emergency Management Plan, and emergency response.

UTHSC Building Emergency Preparedness is an effort to connect the campus emergency planning and response with the campus community. The goal is to train some people in basic emergency response actions who know the building and occupants and can act as a resource and liaison to the students, faculty, and staff who frequent that facility.

The two most basic responses are to shelter or evacuate. Each building has designated shelter areas and evacuation assembly points that are listed on building signs like this one that can be found near the elevators exits. 

This information is covered in each Building Evacuation Action Plan (BEAP) which is developed by Campus Emergency Management in conjunction with the University units.  The BEAP for each UTHSC building provides safety instruction and guidance to students, faculty, staff, and visitors during an emergency. The BEAP provides procedures to evacuate, shelter, or relocate in response to an emergency or critical incident.

This BEAP is an integral part of creating community resilience, preparing for individual life safety issues, and coordinating with the campus-wide response effort in a major disaster.

This BEAP is developed not only to provide for the safety of the University community, but also to comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation 29 CFR 1910.38 and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) guidelines.

There are two positions that are integral to the safety of occupants for building on Campus, and are listed below. These are designated by each Department Head, director, administrative entity, or his/her designee and work directly with Campus Safety and Emergency Management.

Emergency Preparedness Building Coordinator. Emergency Preparedness Building Coordinators are assigned for the purpose of connecting building emergency preparedness and response to the campus-wide effort.  They are available to the building occupants to assist in planning, preparation and response coordination for emergencies.  They may assist or serve in roles designated by the Department Head or his/her designee depending on the complexity of the building and operational specifics.

Emergency Preparedness Building Floor Manager. Floor Managers shall be designated. The Floor Managers are responsible for assisting the EP Building Coordinator and implementing emergency procedures for their respective floors. The duties, as personal safety and time permits, include:

  • Prior to an emergency, create a floor or department roster for accountability purposes.
  • Know where the recommended areas for shelter for severe weather and an outside chemical release are in the building.
  • Know where the buildings assembly areas are located.
  • Prior to an emergency, solicit volunteers to assist individuals with functional needs.
  • When an emergency occurs, ensure all persons are evacuated/sheltered, as dictated by the emergency.
  • Assist employees, students or visitors with functional needs.
  • Conduct a sweep of the floor and ensure that all occupants of the floor have evacuated or sheltered. Verify the following areas cleared: restrooms, break areas, conference rooms and storage closets.
  • Close all doors.
  • At the assembly area, conduct accountability of all personnel assigned to your specific floor/department and report it to the EP Building Coordinator. Immediately report to an emergency responder any known missing person or a person that may require assistance evacuating.

Information concerning the planning process includes (not limited to) an Emergency Management Plan, vulnerability assessments, and a Hazard Mitigation Plan.

The emergency management plan is a course of action developed to mitigate the damage of potential events that could endanger an organization's ability to function. Such a plan should include measures that provide for the safety of personnel and, if possible, property and facilities.

An emergency plan specifies procedures for handling sudden or unexpected situations. The objective is to be prepared to:

  • Prevent fatalities and injuries.
  • Reduce damage to buildings, stock, and equipment.
  • Protect the environment and the community.
  • Accelerate the resumption of normal operations.

Development of the plan begins with a vulnerability assessment. From this analysis, appropriate emergency procedures can be established The results of the study will show:

  • How likely a situation is to occur.
  • What means are available to stop or prevent the situation.
  • What is necessary for a given situation.

Further, Hazard Mitigation is the effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters. It is most effective when implemented under a comprehensive, long-term mitigation plan. State, tribal, and local governments engage in hazard mitigation planning to identify risks and vulnerabilities associated with natural disasters, and develop long-term strategies for protecting people and property from future hazard events. Mitigation plans are key to breaking the cycle of disaster damage, reconstruction, and repeated damage.

Developing hazard mitigation plans enables state, tribal, and local governments to:

  • Increase education and awareness around threats, hazards, and vulnerabilities;
  • Build partnerships for risk reduction involving government, organizations, businesses, and the public;
  • Identify long-term, broadly-supported strategies for risk reduction;
  • Align risk reduction with other state, tribal, or community objectives;
  • Identify implementation approaches that focus resources on the greatest risks and vulnerabilities; and
  • Communicate priorities to potential sources of funding.
The university employs a variety of methods to notify the campus community of dangerous situations and major interruptions in campus operations. The goal is to inform a community, not every individual by every means available. The campus community is asked to spread UT Alerts to others and take protective action for your safety.


UTHSC ALERT - A general message notifying of a situation which requires immediate attention. Text alerts are limited by characters so the information is very general. The goal is to make you aware of the nature of the incident so you can take appropriate action. Text speed is not as fast as you are used to because of the large volume being delivered by the UT Alert systemThis alert can be distributed by:

  • Mobile Devices (Call/Text)
  • Email
  • Desktop and Laptop Computers attached to the UTHSC domain

Click here for more details.

Rave Guardian mobile device app - The Rave Guardian Campus Safety App feature known as the ‘Safety Timer’ is a powerful personal safety tool. The Safety Timer allows friends and Campus Safety personnel to check the status of an app user in need. If the user does not deactivate the Safety Timer before the time expires, the student app automatically alerts Campus Safety. This app can be downloaded at:

  • Google Play
  • Apple App Store

Media - Information may also be provided through local media outlets. These may help provide awareness but should not be considered an official source of information. There is a tendency to favor speed over accuracy which can lead to confusion.

Examples of emergencies that will result in UT Alert activations:

  • Fires
  • Tornado warnings
  • Campus closures and delays (winter storm)
  • Active Shooter
  • Utility outages (power, network)
  • Evacuations
  • Criminal activity

Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) is a public safety system that allows customers who own certain wireless phones and other enabled mobile devices to receive geographically-targeted, text-like messages alerting them of imminent threats to safety in their area. The technology ensures that emergency alerts will not get stuck in highly congested areas, which can happen with standard mobile voice and texting services. WEA — formerly known as the Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) or Personal Localized Alerting Network (PLAN) — was established pursuant to the Warning, Alert and Response Network (WARN) Act.

WEA enables government officials to target emergency alerts to specific geographic areas through cell towers that broadcast the emergency alerts for reception by WEA-enabled mobile devices.

Wireless companies volunteer to participate in WEA, which is the result of a unique public/private partnership between the FCC, FEMA and the wireless industry to enhance public safety. There are three kinds of alerts:

  • Presidential Alerts – Alerts issued by the President or a designee
  • Imminent Threat Alerts – Alerts that include severe man-made or natural disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, etc., where an imminent threat to life or property exists
  • AMBER Alerts – Alerts that meet the U.S. Department of Justice’s criteria to help law enforcement search for and locate an abducted child

These messages are not UTHSC ALERTS and not issued or controlled by the university.

National alerts are location-based at the county level and sent to WEA capable smartphones through wireless carriers. We monitor a small geographic area around campus when determining whether to send a UT ALERT. This means you may receive a NWS message about severe weather in Shelby County, but not a UT ALERT if campus is not affected.

Most new smartphones are capable of receiving these alerts. New phones come with this feature enabled and the user has to change the settings to stop receiving them.

More information can be found here:

Last Published: Jul 13, 2017