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Emergency Preparedness

What is the difference between Emergency Management and Emergency Preparedness?

Emergency preparedness is done at the individual and family level. It involves knowing what you and your family would do in an emergency, getting your own emergency kit, and making sure you have access to all of the information you need to be prepared for an emergency. For more information, visit our Emergency Preparedness page.

Emergency Management refers to the activities needed to plan for, respond to, and recover from emergencies on a community-wide level. This includes identifying possible problems, providing information to the campus, training individuals who will assist during emergencies and conducting exercises to prepare for such emergencies. Here at UTC, Emergency Management means coordinating these actions listed above and the resources needed to bring our campus back to normal operations as soon as possible. Campus Safety and Emergency Management is responsible for coordinating the emergency preparation and response of the University. More information is available on the emergency management webpage.

Be personally prepared.

Everyone has a role in the campus effort to be prepared. More importantly, every student, faculty, and staff member is a critical part of the response. The information in this section will help you prepare and respond to life threatening emergencies.

  • Download the UTHSC Rave Guardian app. Register with Guardian app to activate features including anonymous text tip and UT Alert notifications.
  • Know where to shelter and evacuate routes in places you frequent.
  • Be informed and know where to get emergency information like building emergency posters.
  • Know how to protect yourself against potential hazards.
  • Have a to go bag with at least some water, medications, hygiene items, clothes, cell phone and charger, IDs, flashlight, etc.
  • Have a plan to check in or link-up with friends and family if phones aren’t available. It is recommended to use an out of town relative as the common contact. The UT System Reconnect website offers a way to register and share information during an emergency.
  • Visit Ready.gov's website to prepare for various types of emergencies.
  • Speak with Campus Safety and Emergency Management or UTHSC Police department for more information or other ideas.

Remember: the time you spend on learning to prepare is an investment that could save your life.

 

If you see something, say something.

Across the nation, we're all part of communities. In cities, on farms, and in the suburbs, we share everyday moments with our neighbors, colleagues, family, and friends. It's easy to take for granted the routine moments in our every day—going to work or school, the grocery store or the gas station. But your every day is different than your neighbor’s—filled with the moments that make it uniquely yours. So if you see something you know shouldn't be there—or someone's behavior that doesn't seem quite right—say something. Because only you know what’s supposed to be in your everyday. Informed, alert communities play a critical role in keeping our nation safe. "If You See Something, Say SomethingTM"engages the public in protecting our homeland through awareness–building, partnerships, and other outreach.

If you become aware of suspicious activity:

  • Call 911 or Campus Police (901-448-4444) if there is a life threatening situation.
  • Reporting Emergencies procedures are located here (http://www.uthsc.edu/campus-police/emergency-response/reporting-emergencies.php)
  • When reporting suspicious activity, it helps to give the most accurate description possible.
      • Brief description of the activity
      • Date, time, and location of the activity
      • Physical identifiers of anyone you observed
      • Descriptions of vehicles
      • Information about where people involved in suspicious activities may have gone
      • Your name and contact information (optional)You can also report suspicious activity online. The following website allows you to report through the State of Tennessee Safety & Homeland Security website at any time:

You can also report suspicious activity online. You can report through the State of Tennessee Safety & Homeland Security website at any time.

The best possible scenario is to intervene by notifying someone before a person turns violent. If you see warning signs, do not hesitate to share your concerns with proper authorities. Response to an active shooter requires individual decision making. The emergency notification from the campus will provide the last known location of the threat, but the shooter might have moved. In most cases, the best action is to barricade.

Warning signs can be found in the Violence Prevention section of the Personal Safety page. 

For sharing concerns or reporting suspicious activity, refer to the Report Suspicious Activity list above.

For more information, visit UTHSC’s Active Shooter page.

Bomb threats or suspicious items are rare, but should always be taken seriously. How quickly and safely you react to a bomb threat could save lives, including your own. What should you do?

Bomb threats are most commonly received via phone, but are also made in person, via email, written note, or other means. Every bomb threat is unique and should be handled in the context of the facility or environment in which it occurs. Facility supervisors and law enforcement will be in the best position to determine the credibility of the threat. Follow these procedures:

  • Remain calm.
  • Notify authorities immediately:
      • Notify your facility supervisor, such as a manager, operator, or administrator, or follow your facility's standard operating procedure. (See below for assistance with developing a plan for your facility or location.)
      • Call 9-1-1 or your local law enforcement if no facility supervisor is available.
  • Refer to the DHS Bomb Threat Checklist for guidance, if available.
  • For threats made via phone:
      • Keep the caller on the line as long as possible. Be polite and show interest to keep them talking.
      • DO NOT HANG UP, even if the caller does.
      • If possible, signal or pass a note to other staff to listen and help notify authorities.
      • Write down as much information as possible—caller ID number, exact wording of threat, type of voice or behavior, etc.—that will aid investigators.
      • Record the call, if possible.
  • For threats made in person, via email, or via written note, refer to the DHS Bomb Threat Checklist and DHS-DOJ Bomb Threat Guidance for more information.
  • Be available for interviews with facility supervisors and/or law enforcement.
  • Follow authorities’ instructions. Facility supervisors and/or law enforcement will assess the situation and provide guidance regarding facility lock-down, search, and/or evacuation.

Watch the Bomb Threat Training Video below and refer to the DHS-DOJ Bomb Threat Guidance for more information.

Together we can help keep our communities safe—if you see something that is suspicious, out of place, or doesn't look right, say something. (Find out more about the "If You See Something, Say SomethingTM" campaign.) A suspicious item is any item (e.g., bag, package, vehicle, etc.) that is reasonably believed to contain explosives, an improvised explosive device (IED), or other hazardous material that requires a bomb technician and/or specialized equipment to further evaluate it. Examples that could indicate a bomb include unexplainable wires or electronics, other visible bomb-like components, and unusual sounds, vapors, mists, or odors.

Generally speaking, anything that is Hidden, Obviously suspicious, and not Typical (HOT) should be deemed suspicious. In addition, potential indicators for a bomb are threats, placement, and proximity of the item to people and valuable assets.

NOTE: Not all items are suspicious. An unattended item is an item (e.g., bag, package, vehicle, etc.) of unknown origin and content where there are no obvious signs of being suspicious (see above). Facility search, lock-down, or evacuation is not necessary unless the item is determined to be suspicious.

You may encounter a suspicious item unexpectedly or while conducting a search as part of your facility's or employer’s Bomb Threat Response Plan. If it appears to be a suspicious item, follow these procedures:

  • Remain calm.
  • Do NOT touch, tamper with, or move the package, bag, or item.
  • Notify authorities immediately:  
      • Notify your facility supervisor, such as a manager, operator, or administrator, or follow your facility's standard operating procedure. (See below for assistance with developing a plan for your facility or location.)
      • Call 9-1-1 or your local law enforcement if no facility supervisor is available.
      • Explain why it appears suspicious.
  • Follow instructions. Facility supervisors and/or law enforcement will assess the situation and provide guidance regarding shelter-in-place or evacuation.
  • If no guidance is provided and you feel you are in immediate danger, calmly evacuate the area. Distance and protective cover are the best ways to reduce injury from a bomb.
  • Be aware. There could be other threats or suspicious items.

Every situation is unique and should be handled in the context of the facility or environment in which it occurs. Facility supervisors and law enforcement will be in the best position to determine if a real risk is posed and how to respond. Refer to the DHS-DOJ Bomb Threat Guidance for more information.

To protect yourself, it is important to understand the basic characteristics of fire. Fire spreads quickly; there is no time to gather valuables or make a phone call. In just two minutes, a fire can become life-threatening. In five minutes, a residence can be engulfed in flames.

Heat and smoke from fire can be more dangerous than the flames. Inhaling the super-hot air can sear your lungs. Fire produces poisonous gases that make you disoriented and drowsy. Instead of being awakened by a fire, you may fall into a deeper sleep. Asphyxiation is the leading cause of fire deaths, exceeding burns by a three-to-one ratio.

Any faculty, staff, student or visitor that becomes aware of a fire shall immediately notify the building of a fire. This can be done via a variety of methods such as utilizing a Fire Pull Station, paging system (if available), and contacting UTHSC Police at 901-448-4444  (or Dialing 911).

When notifying responders – provide the following information that may include, but is not limited to:

  • Location of the fire.
  • Name and Location of functional needs individuals requiring evacuation assistance.
  • Personnel missing that may still be in the building.
  • Special hazards associated with the building (if any).

The University Evacuation Policy mandates that the building shall immediately be evacuated except in areas where special procedures have been developed because immediate evacuation presents a risk.  All faculty, staff, students, and visitors will regard any activation of a fire alarm as a true fire emergency unless there has been previous notification of a fire alarm test.

Trying to put out the fire:

Only occupants comfortable operating a fire extinguisher should make an attempt to extinguish the fire.

Only if the fire is very small should an attempt be made to extinguish the fire. If the fire is not contained, involves flammable solvents, is spreading rapidly, is partially hidden behind a wall or ceiling, cannot be reached from a standing position, or if it becomes difficult to breathe in the room: DO NOT attempt to extinguish the fire. Evacuate immediately!

Follow these steps:

  • Collect valuables (purse, coat, cell phone, etc.) if time permits.
  • Close all office doors upon leaving.
  • Any occupant who comes into contact with a student or visitor will direct them to evacuate the building.
  • Any occupant that comes into contact with a person with functional needs, that requires help exiting the building, should assist that individual to an area of rescue and once outside notify an emergency responder that a person needs assistance and their location.
  • Go to your assembly point. The assembly point is identified in the Building Emergency Action Plan. 
UTHSC will remain open except in the most severe weather conditions. The majority of university activities can continue safely. However, departments must monitor severe weather and review their operations to ensure they can be conducted safely.

If inclement weather occurs, Health Science Center students, faculty and staff may stay informed of the campus' status by:

  • Calling 44UT ICE (448-8423). Since the hot line can provide the most up-to-date information, it will be the official information source.;
  • the Health Science Center Homepage
  • Local television and radio stations.

Additionally, UTHSC offices will be considered open unless the announcement specifically says all offices will be closed.

If severe weather is likely (winter storm, high winds, thunder, lightning, hail, flash floods):

  • Postpone outdoor activities.
  • Monitor the weather for local conditions.
  • Seek appropriate shelter (if there is a thunderstorm, remain there until thirty minutes after the last rumble of thunder).
      • Sheds, tents, and covered porches don’t protect you from lightning.
      • Find a sturdy building or get into a hard topped metal vehicle with the windows closed.
  • Do NOT use a corded phone if you hear thunder. Cordless phones and cell phones are safe to use.
  • Keep away from electrical equipment, wiring, and water pipes.
      • Sensitive electronics should be unplugged.
      • Don’t take a bath, shower, or use other plumbing during a thunderstorm.
      • Stay away from utility poles, tall trees, and towers during a thunderstorm.
  • Avoid high water, storm drains, ditches, ravines, or tunnels.
      • Don’t drive through a flooded road. A few inches of water can be deadly.
      • If you’re at work, monitor the campus notifications and follow the directions provided.

In the case of a Severe Thunderstorm Watch:

Before:

  • A thunderstorm watch means that weather conditions are favorable for the formation of a thunderstorm.
  • Stay alert for changing weather conditions and be prepared to take action.
  • If available, listen to the TV or radio for details.

Beginning or During:

  • Move inside a building.
  • Stay away from windows.
  • Stay calm.
  • Do not use the telephone.
  • If available, listen to a radio or TV for updates.

After:

Listen for the "all clear" signal that the threat is over.

In the case of a Severe Thunderstorm Warning:

Before:

  • A severe thunderstorm can have severe lightning and damaging hail.
  • Stay alert for changing weather conditions and be prepared to take action.
  • If available, listen to the TV or radio for details.

Beginning or During:

  • Move inside a building.
  • Do not go outside until the warning has expired.
  • Stay away from windows.
  • Stay calm.
  • Do not use the telephone.
  • If available, listen to a radio or TV for updates.

After:

Listen for the "all clear" signal that the threat is over.

NOTE: The type, severity, reactions, and impact of an incident are not always the same. The information provided below is some suggested actions to take. This may or may not be everything you should or should not do as your actions may vary depending on the incident.

In the case of a Tornado Watch:

Before:

  • A tornado watch means that weather conditions are favorable for the formation of a tornado.
  • Stay alert for changing weather conditions and be prepared to take action.
  • Be alert to changes in local weather.

Beginning or During:

  • Move inside a building.
  • Check local weather for updates (using weather radio, Web, or TV).
  • Plan for what you will do if a Warning is issued.
  • Plan for what you will do if you are in a class when a Warning is issued.
  • Make sure you have a way of knowing when a warning is issued.
  • Listen for Sirens, which indicate a warning.
  • Stay away from windows.
  • Stay calm.

In the case of a Tornado Warning:

Before:

  • A tornado warning means that a tornado has actually been sighted by spotters or indicated on radar and is occurring or imminent in the warning area.
  • Under no circumstances should you be outside during a tornado warning.
  • Building personnel should listen for the emergency sirens. Weather conditions should be monitored in administrative offices.
  • Laboratories will need to be secured (by turning off gas burners or other laboratory equipment which could cause additional health and safety concerns) if a warning is issued.
  • Have portable radio and flashlight and other emergency supplies.
  • During the spring season, tornado sirens are tested Wednesdays at noon. The tests last for thirty seconds. In the event that the siren sounds on a Wednesday morning for longer than thirty seconds, you should initiate tornado protection procedures.  Sirens are not tested during a Tornado Watch or threatening weather.

Beginning or During:

  • At the first sound of a siren you should seek shelter immediately on the lowest level and toward the center of a building away from windows (for example, interior classrooms, offices, or corridors) and remain there until the Tornado Warning has expired.
  • Take immediate action.
  • Secure laboratories by turning off gas burners or other laboratory equipment which could cause additional health and safety concerns.
  • Keep hallways clear by standing against the wall. When a tornado approaches, all individuals should assume kneeling position facing the wall with heads bent down.
  • The following areas should be considered “off limits” during a tornado evacuation:
    • Near outside doors
    • Any location on the upper floors of buildings
    • Any outside area
    • Near windows
  • Stay calm.
  • Stay in the designated area in the building.
  • Do not leave the shelter area until the sirens have stopped sounding for at least 5 minutes.

After:

  • If buildings are damaged, stay out of the disaster area.
  • Do NOT use telephones except in life-threatening emergencies.

Earthquakes occur without warning. Some earthquakes are instantaneous tremors and others are significant sustained events followed by aftershocks. Once a significant earthquake begins, building occupants must take immediate individual emergency action DROP! COVER! HOLD ON! Additional actions will be implemented after the quake stops.

When a significant earthquake occurs, occupants should immediately DROP! COVER! HOLD ON! Suggested locations inside buildings that provide cover include:

  • Getting under a desk or heavy table and hold on.
  • Move into a hallway or stand against an inside wall.
  • Stay away from glass, bookshelves and wall hangings.

NOTE: Do not seek cover under laboratory tables or benches, chemicals could spill and harm personnel. 

Once the shaking has stopped, gather valuables and quickly leave the building. Doors may be jammed, so exiting through another means may be necessary. DO NOT USE ELEVATORS. Avoid downed utility lines, trees, bridges or any structure that could fall. Evacuate to the building assembly area(s) (See Appendix C). Assist any person with functional needs. 

Be prepared for aftershocks. Although smaller than the main shock, aftershocks cause additional damage and may bring weakened structures down. Aftershocks can occur in the first hours, days, weeks, or even months after the quake. Follow the same procedures as for earthquakes. 

In a major emergency, self-reporting by those not on campus is critical to getting accurate accountability at the campus level.  All students, faculty, and staff should report if they are safe at The UT System Reconnect website, UTHSC PD, Rave Guardian app, or through departmental call trees.

Natural gas is a safe and clean source of energy and used throughout campus, but like any gas, there is potential for it be released unintendedly. Your response to a natural gas leak will be similar to other emergencies that make an area temporarily unsafe: evacuate.

Remember the three R’s: Recognize, React, and Report.

  • Recognize. The most common way natural gas leaks are detected is by the smell, but you may notice a hissing sound from a connection in a lab or dead vegetation near a buried gas line.
  • React. Evacuate the area immediately.  This includes evacuating buildings that may be the source or be bringing the gas in through air handling equipment.  Evacuate to an assembly point that isn’t in the area of the leak. If you need evacuation assistance, visit our Functional Needs Population section.
  • Report.  When you are in a safe area, report the leak by calling the Facilities Services emergency number 448-4444 or 911.

Do’s and Don’ts of responding to a natural gas leak.

  • Do:
      • Evacuate.
      • Report.
      • Provide any detailed information you have to arriving responders.
  • Don’ts
      • Investigate the leak yourself.
      • Turn on or off appliances or any equipment capable of creating a spark including light switches.
      • Stay near the leak or reenter an area until responders have given the “all clear.”
Flooding can happen at any time. Serious water damage can occur from many sources:  burst pipes, fire sprinkler activation, clogged drains, broken skylights and windows, construction projects, major rainstorms, water main breaks, or loss of power to sump pumps.

In the case of flooding, notify Campus Facilities Operations or UTHSC PD immediately and give the following information:

  • Your name
  • Telephone number
  • Location of the leak (building, floor, room number, etc.)
  • Severity of the leak
  • Indicate whether any people or equipment are involved or are in imminent danger

Safety first: Evacuate the area. Do not attempt to shut down or save electronic equipment,as you can be electrocuted. However, you may be asked by facilities staff to assist in the location of sensitive equipment and how to shut it down.

Safety first: If hazardous laboratory materials are compromised or threatened, the local HAZMAT team should be involved in the response. Facilities may also need to shut off the electricity in water-exposed areas, as electricity flows easily through water and poses a lethal risk. In some cases, trained laboratory personnel may need to be called in to shut off sensitive laboratory instruments. Some equipment may have potentially hidden high voltage lines that power various systems. Trained laboratory staff may know where those voltage lines are, while first responders may overlook them.

Last Published: Jul 13, 2017