Submitted by Dr. Stewart W. Edwards, Northern Virginia Community College
Faculty’s Role in Campus Emergency Planning and Response
For most community college students in Virginia, professors are the face of the college. That’s just the reality of a student’s experience – they see their instructors more than anyone else on a campus. As a result, faculty are likely to be the ones that students will depend upon if an emergency situation arises on that campus. Therefore, faculty should play an important role in community college emergency planning and response, but, within the VCCS, that is largely not the case.
In a recent survey of VCCS colleges with current C-CERTs (Campus-Community Emergency Response Teams), on average, only 21.6% of the campus team members are faculty. The level of faculty involvement within the VCCS ranges from 0% to 40%.
Various research studies, academic journals, and higher education feature articles all agree that faculty do have an essential role in emergency planning and response. Even the federal government readily admits that faculty should be trained in emergency response.
So, why should VCCS faculty get involved in C-CERT? First, as mentioned, faculty are the leaders of any campus. According to FEMA, a campus isn’t completely resilient unless each community member is engaged and educated about what to do in a disaster situation. Further, once trained to respond to campus emergencies, faculty can help in their homes or in their neighborhoods. The training goes with them. They don’t forget it when they leave the campus.
In the event of a campus disaster, outside first responders won’t always have the staff or resources to help immediately. C-CERT faculty members are able to evacuate people from the buildings, manage traffic, and share reliable information as to what to do until help arrives.
For more information on getting involved in emergency planning and response on your campus, 1) Talk to your college safety administrators. 2) Volunteer to join your campus C-CERT team. 3) If one does not exist on your campus, ask for a C-CERT team to be organized and volunteer to participate. 4) Go to: http://www.fema.gov/cert for more information about the CERT and C-CERT programs.
Dr. Stewart W. Edwards is a professor at Northern Virginia Community College’s Annandale Campus. He was a member of NOVA’s first C-CERT team and is a FEMA-certified CERT trainer. In addition to his CERT and C-CERT training, he holds 26 FEMA-EMI certifications and is a licensed HAM radio operator. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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