University of St. Thomas Houston has successfully completed requirements for its $245,000 Emergency Management for Higher Education Grant from the U.S. Department of Education. UST was one of 17 schools nationwide awarded the grant in 2010.
The purpose of the Emergency Management for Higher Education discretionary grant program is to provide funds for higher education institutions to develop, or review and improve, and fully integrate campus-based all-hazards emergency management planning efforts. In developing or improving their plans, institutions are required to use the framework of the four phases of emergency management: Prevention-Mitigation, Preparedness, Response and Recovery.
“UST accomplished the goals on time,” Chris Barry, co-director of Emergency and Safety Services, said. “We enacted comprehensive plans to develop, review, improve and fully integrate campus-based all-hazards emergency management planning efforts within the framework of the four phases of emergency management with the emphasis on Prevention-Mitigation, Preparedness, Response and Recovery.”
During the two-year grant, St. Thomas reviewed and revised its existing emergency management plans, conducted vulnerability assessments of campus facilities, provided training to campus staff and students, organized tabletop exercises, collaborated with local first responders and community partners, and developed and enhanced plans for preventing violence on campus by assessing and addressing the mental health needs of students who may be at risk of causing campus violence.
“One of the overarching EMHE program goals was to support the implementation of the National Incident Management System by training 16 employees, with two courses per person, over the life of the grant,” Barry said. “The University achieved well beyond the goal, training 27 employees, with four courses per person.”
NIMS is a standardized approach to incident management and response developed by the Department of Homeland Security. It establishes a uniform set of processes and procedures that emergency responders at all levels of government will use to conduct response operations.
“UST now sees itself as, not only preparing for incidents that may take place on campus, but rather, through the NIMS trainings, an institutional component that may be part of a community or regional response in the future,” Barry said.
As part of the grant, the University also developed a campus emergency preparedness campaign “Get Ready, Already!” to create awareness among students, staff and faculty about emergency management issues and procedures. The initiative calls the campus community of 3,700 students to “Be Aware, Be Prepared and Take Action!” The University launched its new emergency preparedness website, www.stthhom.edu/READY
, with resources and guides on inclement weather, campus and personal safety, and suspicious situations. Resources are available in both English and Spanish.
The University of St. Thomas, dedicated to educating leaders of faith and character, is a private institution committed to the liberal arts and to the religious, ethical and intellectual tradition of Catholic higher education. St. Thomas is Houston’s only Catholic University and was founded by the Basilian Fathers. “Like” us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter, @stthomashouston.