Immediate Threat to UMaine Community
Emergency Response and Evacuation Procedures
Statement of Policy
When a significant emergency or dangerous situation involving an immediate threat to the University of Maine community is confirmed, UMaine will activate the appropriate elements of its emergency communications protocol. That protocol gives emergency management personnel access to several communications options:
- an emergency announcement on UMaine’s Web page, http://www.umaine.edu
- a message that “pops up” on the screen of every person logged onto FirstClass, UMaine’s email and conferencing system, the university’s official information source
- a recorded message at 581-INFO
- a message delivered through UMaine’s subscriber based umaine.txt system, featuring text messaging, email and social network interface capability
- a series of three outdoor sirens that signal an emergency situation and notify those on campus that they must seek information about keeping themselves safe
UMaine is committed to immediate notification of emergency situations, with decision-making rooted in the primary consideration of the community’s safety.
The University of Maine will, without delay and taking into account the safety of the community, determine the appropriate nature and content of the notification and initiate its emergency communications protocol. Exceptions may apply if, in the professional judgment of responsible authorities, notification would compromise efforts to assist victims or to contain, respond to or otherwise mitigate the emergency.
UMaine will employ established procedures to confirm emergencies and determine the details of notification.
- Using the National Incident Management System (NIMS) structure, UMaine’s Incident Commander (IC) manages response to significant emergencies on campus. The incident commander may, in some cases, eventually be relieved by another UMaine official or – depending on the nature of the issue – an Orono Fire Department officer. The incident commander, with assistance from other personnel, will assess possible hazards to human health and the environment, considering both the direct and indirect effects. The incident commander ensures notification of facility employees and may coordinate an internal response and/or act as a liaison to external emergency responders.
- While the incident commander handles the initial response, the university will open an Emergency Operations Center (EOC), where senior members of the management team will implement the Incident Command System (ICS) using NIMS guidelines.
- The university’s incident commander, in consultation with EOC personnel, will determine if there is a significant emergency or dangerous situation involving an immediate threat to the health and/or safety of students, employees and/or visitors.
- The incident commander will determine the appropriate elements of the university’s emergency communications protocol to employ.
- The incident commander and liaison to senior administration (usually the Vice President for Student Affairs or Director of the Division of Marketing and Communications) will make every effort to inform the university’s president or his designee to gain approval for implementing the communications protocol. The incident commander has authority to initiate communications without that approval, if he or she deems it necessary.
- The incident commander and university communications personnel will create the content of emergency messages, using templates that have been created in advance.
- University communications personnel, working with police communications specialists, will initiate the emergency notification system
Several University of Maine units collaborate in the process of creating and disseminating emergency communications:
- the Division of Marketing and Communications
- the Police Department
- the Division of Student Affairs
- the Department of Safety and Environmental Management
While timely on-campus notifications represent the priority, the university’s emergency communications system includes elements that allow information to spread beyond campus to the greater community. Those elements include:
- The umaine.txt notification system, which allows student and employee registrants to add a second contact, most often a parent or close family member
- The siren system which is audible on campus and also in parts of both Orono and Old Town
- UMaine’s web (www.umaine.edu) page notification, which is visible to users anywhere
- A significant UMaine emergency would also certainly gain news media attention, the management of which is part of the incident command structutre
Regular testing is a critical element of UMaine’s emergency response and evacuation procedures.
- The siren system is tested each Monday at 12 noon, at low volume. This ensures that the mechanisms are in proper working order
- The entire emergency notification system is tested annually, with advance notice to the UMaine community and to those in adjacent neighborhoods
- the umaine.txt text messaging, email and social network communication system is tested on a monthly basis
- Evacuation procedures are covered during annual employee safety training and student training
This emergency notification requirement does not replace the timely warning requirement of the Clery Act. They differ in that the timely warning applies only to Clery-reportable crimes, while the emergency notification requirement addresses a wider range of threats (e.g. gas leaks, weather emergencies, contagious viruses, etc.). An institution that follows its emergency notification procedures is not required to issue a timely warning based on the same circumstances, but must provide adequate follow-up information to the community as needed.