Tufts offers new emergency planning to departments
Published: Monday, September 10, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 10, 2012 16:09
The Tufts Department of Public and Environmental Safety (DPES) has used a $503,138 grant to fund Tufts Ready|continuity, a new continuity planning resource for emergency preparedness, according to Geoffrey Bartlett, Director of Emergency Management.
Tufts Ready|continuity, developed for institutions of higher education by the University of California, Berkeley, is web-based software that provides instructions on how to resume the critical functions of a department in the event that it is disrupted by emergencies, he said.
The continuity plan is an “all-hazards” approach against high-risk emergencies such as natural disasters, power interruptions, adverse weather or an active shooter event, according to Kevin Maguire, director of public and environmental safety.
“After the initial response to an emergency or disaster, there’s a much longer term called term recovery,” Bartlett said.
“Teaching, research, patient care and student life are an important part of what we need to get back to. You achieve this [continuity planning] by identifying strategies or resources that you can use to carry on or restore the core functions.”
Continuity Planning Specialist Matthew Hart identified the five components of emergency planning as department identification, critical function, information technology, instruction and key resources.
“To begin the process you submit a consultation, which then goes to two planners at the department who walk you through the continuity planning,” he said.
While DPES had existing emergency preparedness policies in place, the new software was borne out of a need for a long-term recovery approach that it is more specific to departments, Bartlett said.
“It’s unique in the industry in that it’s designed by a higher education institution for the unique needs of higher institution,” Bartlett added.
Bartlett cited the university’s response to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic influenza as a learning curve and partial inspiration for the development of Tufts Ready|continuity.
“We applied for the grant at the tail end of the H1N1 pandemic influenza, memorializing some of what we had learned with the response and trying to apply that to a more deliberate planning process,” he said.
Bartlett encourages departments to begin to implement Tufts Ready|continuity.
“The first priority is the central department in the university,” Bartlett said, referring to the Department of Public and Environmental Safety. “It is very important for Student Services to have payroll, and [the Department of Facilities Services] is the same way. The reason we identify them as priorities is because they’re highly dependent on infrastructure and specialized infrastructure, such as laboratories, that could jeopardize years of research [if something were to happen to them]. Our next priority is academic departments.”
Hart noted that several university offices and departments have begun to utilize the new software.
“We’re working with the Offices of the Provost and Vice Provost, Student Services, operation division, parts of finance and parts of University Information Technology (UIT),” Hart said.
The grant, awarded in the spring of 2011, also funded a series of management trainings, according to Maguire.
“The grant actually funds a slew of things, like incident management training with various senior level stakeholders, and the continuity plans itself,” he said.
The grant will also pay for joint training with local first responders, including Tufts University Police Department (TUPD), Tufts Emergency Medical Services (TEMS) and firefighters, according to Maguire.
Bartlett explained that continuity planning is a cornerstone for emergency preparedness, adding that he foresees its extension into the Grafton and Boston campuses.