Emergency Management Policy Statement

The following statement is a summary of Washington and Lee University's Emergency Response and Evacuation Procedures.

Washington and Lee University has in place systems and procedures to help the University respond to significant emergency situations promptly and effectively. During an emergency, the President of the University (or in his absence, by designation specifically for purposes of the Emergency Management Plan, designated senior administrators) has ultimate emergency responsibility and authority for activating the Emergency Management Plan, as necessary, and designating an Incident Commander to oversee the management of all emergency activities, including development, implementation, and review of strategic decisions and post-event review.. The President (or surrogate/designee) is assisted and advised by the Emergency Management Executive Team (EMET)1. The EMET provides executive leadership, advice, and counsel to the President or his surrogate/designee on high level emergency management and recovery decisions for the University. Depending on the nature and scope of a particular emergency situation, some or all of the members of the EMET may be involved in tactical management of the response and recovery under the leadership of the designated Incident Commander, and may be designated as the Emergency Operations Group (EOG) for that emergency situation.

Upon notification of a situation involving a significant emergency, the Department of Public Safety will consult one or more senior staff members of the EMET, who will then review the situation, consult with the President (or surrogate/designee) and other internal and external sources, as appropriate to the nature of the situation and the potential for threat to health, safety or property. In accordance with the Emergency Management Plan, an Incident Commander will be designated, or other appropriate measures will be taken to address the situation.

Upon confirmation of a significant emergency or dangerous situation involving an immediate or impending threat to the health or safety of students or employees occurring on the campus, or in any other situation deemed appropriate by the President (or surrogate/designee), the President (or surrogate/designee, including the Incident Commander) will, without delay, and taking into account the safety of the community, work to determine the content of an emergency notification and will instruct the Executive Director for Communications and Public Affairs to provide notice of the emergency using the Emergency Communications Systems, unless issuing the notification would compromise efforts to respond to the emergency. In certain emergency situations, when time does not permit consultation, the Executive Director for Communications and Public Affairs, upon notice from the Director of Public Safety, or the Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, may independently determine to issue a campus alert using one or more of the communications systems listed below:

  • Mass emails to wlu.edu accounts
  • Text alerts to mobile phones through the "Generals Alerts" system (be sure to log in at http://go.wlu.edu/general-alerts at least annually to check that your contact information is accurate, and to update your account when any of your contact information changes
  • Posting information to the W&L Emergency Website (http://emergency.wlu.edu) and main W&L Website (www.wlu.edu)
  • Information on the W&L Emergency Information Line at extension 5277, or (540) 462-5277 from off-campus
  • Social media: Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/washingtonandlee) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/wlunews)
  • LiveSafe App (http://go.wlu.edu/livesafe)
  • Broadcast media: TV stations (WDBJ-7, WSLS-10, WSET-13), Radio stations (WREL-1450 AM, WWZW-96.7 FM, WMRA-89.9 FM, WKDW-900 AM, WLUR-91.5 FM)
  • Other possible alternative methods (bullhorns, flyers, building runners, personal emails, phone calls)

In significant emergencies, the Incident Commander, overseeing the Emergency Operations Group (EOG), will lead a coordinated response effort, with members of the EOG charged with particular duties and leadership roles based on their areas of expertise. The Incident Commander and EOG will communicate and coordinate with community partners and emergency response officials as necessary and appropriate to the particular emergency situation. The Executive Director for Communications and Public Affairs or designee will be the principal media contact and University spokesperson with external audiences.

The Director of Facilities is in charge of conducting damage assessments and conveying that information to the Incident Commander. The Director, working with the Engineer, has temporary emergency authority to evacuate or close an emergency site they deem an immediate threat to life or safety, subject to review by the Incident Commander. If it is necessary to evacuate a building, section of campus, or the entire campus, because of extensive failure of any critical system or other danger present on campus, the Incident Commander, in consultation with the EOG and the President (or surrogate/designee), may order an evacuation. In that case the Executive Director for Communications and Public Affairs or designee will notify the campus community through the Emergency Communications Systems options listed above. A summary of evacuation procedures is provided below.

The President (or surrogate/designee), in consultation with the Incident Commander and EOG, has the sole authority to declare an end to any state of emergency. Follow-up information will be sent to the campus community via the Emergency Communications Systems options listed above.

The EMET, or a subgroup of that team, as directed by the President, will be responsible for regular review of the Emergency Management Plan and for structuring and executing training and tests of the emergency management procedures on an annual basis to affirm their efficacy. These tests may be announced or unannounced, and will include documentation by the Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students of a description of the test, the date and time of the test, and whether the test was announced or unannounced. In conjunction with the annual test, the University will publicize the Emergency Management Plan. These tests will be coordinated with city and county officials, as appropriate.

Summary of Evacuation Procedures

All members of the University community should become familiar with these recommended evacuation procedures. This includes learning where exits are located in classroom, work, and residential buildings, knowing the location of the assembly area designated for your location, and knowing the off-campus transportation pick up site. Full evacuation procedures, additional information regarding assisting individuals with disabilities, and a complete listing of designated assembly areas, are detailed in Appendix B of the Emergency Management Plan.

An evacuation may be necessary when conditions are such that it is no longer safe for individuals to remain inside of a single building or area, within a section of campus, or anywhere on campus, whether due to extensive failure of critical systems or other danger(s). You may be notified of the need to evacuate by the sounding of a fire alarm in the building, a directive from Public Safety or University Facilities personnel, or by an evacuation order communicated through the Emergency Communications Systems. However, if you are in a campus building and, despite not having received any order to evacuate, you believe it is not safe for individuals to remain inside the building (due to a fire or hazardous materials leak, for example), pull the nearest fire alarm to alert all those in the building to evacuate, and follow the evacuation procedures below.

1. Building or Area Evacuation

If a fire alarm sounds or you receive an order to evacuate from Public Safety or University Facilities personnel or through the Emergency Communications Systems, follow these procedures:

  • Stay calm, do not rush, and do not panic.
  • If safe to do so, gather your essential personal belongings, including personal identification, purse/wallet, keys, and prescription medications; it may be hours or days before you are allowed back in the building.
  • If safe to do so, close the doors and windows in your immediate area, but do not lock them.
  • Proceed to the nearest exit.
  • DO NOT use elevators.
  • Once outside, move quickly away from the building to the designated evacuation assembly area for your location. (See Accounting for Individuals Following Building Evacuation below).
  • Report to the appropriate supervisor or instructor and let him/her know that you are safe.
  • Report any medical emergencies or individuals remaining in the building to emergency officials, either in person (if emergency officials are present on the scene) or by calling 911 or Public Safety at extension 8999, or (540) 458-8999 from off-campus.
  • Contact Public Safety at extension 8999, or (540) 458-8999 from off-campus, if you noticed significant damage to property or anything unusual during your evacuation.
  • Do not reenter the building under any circumstances until it has been cleared for reentry by Public Safety or through the Emergency Communications Systems.
  • Await and follow instructions from Public Safety, other University personnel, or law enforcement/emergency officials.

Accounting for Individuals following Building/Area Evacuation

  • It is important to report to your designated assembly area so that the University can attempt to account for all members of the community.
  • As quickly as possible, depending on the nature and scope of the emergency and the feasibility of meeting at the designated assembly area(s), faculty of classes that were in session, workplace supervisors, Residence Life/Greek Housing staff, and other designated facility reporters will account for their students and staff known or presumed to have been in the building/area, and report missing and/or presumed missing individuals to Public Safety or emergency officials. As it is safe to do so, Public Safety or other designated individuals will conduct a search of the building/area for any sheltering, entrapped, or injured occupants.
  • If you leave campus after evacuating a building or area without reporting to your designated assembly area, please try to email or call the faculty of your class that was in session at the time of the evacuation, your supervisor, Residence Life or Greek Housing staff, or your Class Dean, as appropriate, to advise them that you are safe and of your location.

2. Campus Evacuation

In case of a campus-wide disaster, such as a major earthquake, large hazardous materials release, or widespread fire, certain sections of campus, or the entire campus, may need to be evacuated, whether because of extensive failure of critical systems or other dangers on campus. In such cases, the Incident Commander, in consultation with the EOG and the President (or surrogate/designee), Public Safety, and others, depending on the situation), may order an evacuation and, with the coordination of any appropriate external agencies, will determine the scope and method of implementing such an evacuation, as warranted by the situation.

Public Safety and the Emergency Communications Systems will alert the campus community on specific evacuation details. However, if an order is given to evacuate the campus or a section of campus, follow these general procedures:

  • Individuals should follow the building evacuation procedures set forth above to evacuate the building or area in which they are located. Depending on the nature of the emergency leading to the order to evacuate, Public Safety and the Emergency Communications Systems will provide instructions on whether individuals should proceed to their designated assembly location first for an accounting of persons, or take other measures, which may depend on whether they have their own transportation off campus or need transportation.
  • Students should not return to the evacuated building(s) or area(s) to retrieve personal belongings unless advised by Public Safety or the Emergency Communications Systems that it is safe to do so.
  • It may be necessary to implement a phased evacuation, in order to minimize the time needed to evacuate and manage traffic congestion. The evacuation order and instructions will include specific information regarding the order in which particular campus locations or constituents will evacuate, when the evacuation will begin, the logistics and routes to be used, and other relevant information.
  • Students, employees, and campus visitors who have vehicles on or near campus are encouraged to carpool with others who are without readily available transportation.
  • The University will contract with vendors and/or make arrangements with other local or regional organizations to provide buses, vans, or other vehicles to transport students, faculty, staff and campus visitors without their own transportation to safe locations off campus, depending on the nature and scope of the emergency.
  • Individuals who do not have their own transportation should report to the front of Early-Fielding on Washington Street to pick up University-provided transportation.
  • In most cases, certain key personnel will be required to remain on duty until the evacuation is complete. Such key personnel may include (but is not limited to) all or some of the following (additional staff may be required to remain on campus at the direction of the President (or surrogate/designee), in consultation with the Incident Commander and the EOG):
    • Senior staff as designated by the President (or surrogate/designee)
    • Emergency Management Executive Team
    • Public Safety
    • University Facilities
    • Student Life (Dining, Student Health Center, Residential Life)

Accounting for Individuals During or Following Campus Evacuation

  • Processes for accounting for students and employees, and to the extent possible, campus visitors, will depend on the nature and scope of the emergency, whether individuals have been told to report to designated assembly areas before evacuating campus, and whether individuals use University-provided transportation, their own transportation, or carpool with others from campus.
  • If individuals have been told to report to designated assembly areas before evacuating campus, faculty of classes that were in session, workplace supervisors, Residence Life/Greek Housing staff, and other designated facility reporters, will try to account for their students and staff known or presumed to have been in the building/area when the evacuation began, and report missing and/or presumed missing individuals to Public Safety or emergency officials on the scene.
  • The University will use all reasonable efforts to account for those individuals using University-provided transportation in an evacuation before, during, or after the off-site transportation process, depending on how quickly the evacuation needs to proceed.
  • As it is safe to do so, Public Safety or other designated individuals will conduct a search of all open buildings on campus for any sheltering, entrapped, or injured occupants.
  • When safe to do so, individuals who have used their own transportation to evacuate, or have carpooled with others, should email or call the faculty teaching the class in session at the time of the evacuation, their workplace supervisor, Residence Life/Greek Housing staff, or their Class Dean, as appropriate, to advise that they are safe and of their current location.
  • The University, through the Incident Commander and the EOG, will use all reasonable efforts to try and account for all members of the campus community following the evacuation, using information from reporting faculty, supervisors, Residence Life/Greek Housing staff, other designated facility reporters, Student Affairs, Human Resources, Public Safety, law enforcement and other external emergency officials, and comparing that information with class schedules, work schedules, hosing rosters, and other University records relevant to identifying the whereabouts of students, employees, and campus visitors, at the time of the emergency evacuation and thereafter.

3. Evacuation of Individuals with Disabilities

If you have a disability and are unable to evacuate a building or area on your own, stay calm and take steps to protect yourself, as appropriate. Call 911 or Public Safety at extension 8999, or 540.458.8999 from off-campus, and tell the responder where you are or where you will be and if you have a service animal or other assistive devices or equipment. If you must move:

  • Move to an exterior enclosed stairwell.
  • Request persons exiting by way of the stairwell to notify emergency officials of your location.
  • Follow all other evacuation procedures set forth in this Appendix.

It is suggested that individuals with disabilities prepare for emergencies by learning the locations of exit corridors and enclosed stairwells and by informing co-workers, professors, and/or classmates of the best methods of assistance during an emergency. For assistance with preplanning for an emergency, contact the Title IX Coordinator and Director of Disability Resources or your supervisor or department head (for employees). A few non-exclusive examples of preplanning measures include:

  • Learning alternate exit routes from commonly used areas
  • Identifying a "buddy" to help
  • Keeping extra medication, assistive devices, etc. on hand
  • Wearing medical alert tags to inform emergency personnel or volunteers of pertinent health conditions

Further information on Campus Evacuation is provided in Appendix B of the University's Emergency Management Plan.

1The EMET consists of: President; Provost; Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students; Vice President for Finance and Treasurer; General Counsel; Associate Dean for Administration and Law Student Affairs; Director of Public Safety; Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs; Executive Director of University Facilities; Chief Technology Officer; Director of Student Health and Counseling Services/University Physician; Director of Environmental Health and Safety; Executive Director of Human Resources.