Ever wondered what goes into preparing for emergencies on campus? With roughly 36,500 students and a growing number of faculty, staff, and on-campus employees, NC State has many people within its care, making it especially important for the university to be prepared for any sort of emergency situation.
Located within the department of Environmental Health and Public Safety, Emergency Management and Mission Continuity (EMMC) oversees emergency preparedness planning for all of campus, ranging from campuswide emergency procedures to individual response plans for offices and research labs. EMMC was established in 2016 to revitalize NC State’s approach to emergency situations and focus on a larger breadth of emergency preparedness procedures.
“EMMC has rebranded over the years and has begun to take an ‘all hazards’ approach to emergencies. We consider all possible emergencies, guide people in pre-event planning to help them react quickly, and coordinate during-event response to make it easier for them to recover,” Joe Darkoh, mission continuity and IT manager, said.
Joe Darkoh and Amy Orders, managing director, have been with EMMC since its inception, and they, alongside their colleague Todd Becker, university emergency manager, have been integral in shaping emergency preparedness efforts on campus. In 2016, Becker, Darkoh and Orders created the Pack Ready Plan initiative to specifically engage faculty and staff in emergency preparation and highlight the importance of planning for all situations. EMMC has implemented two campaigns, Year of Planning (2018-2019) and Year of Partnerships (2019-2020), in conjunction with the Pack Ready Plan. Both initiatives have successfully engaged the NC State community in EMMC’s mission, ensuring a coordinated planning approach to mitigating emergency situations.
“Outreach campaigns allow us to focus on building our Pack Plan programs – Pack Ready’s Year of Planning explained how to build a department’s plan in small, useful informational blocks. The current campaign, Year of Partnerships, extends our mission of collaboration in support of NC State – preparing the Pack, one partnership at a time!” Orders said.
As a hub for emergency preparedness information, one of EMMC’s primary roles is to deliver a single, uniform message during emergency situations to ensure the NC State community is informed in a timely, accurate and consistent manner. This typically involves synthesizing information from critical campus service providers into a single yet comprehensive action plan for campus operations, decision making, and university communications. Darkoh says that there’s been a “culture change” as EMMC has begun to focus more on communication and collaboration with campus partners and student organizations, “inviting more people into the conversation” about emergency preparedness.
“We invite people to talk about branding and ideas to see what will be effective,” Orders said. “People want to take part in what we’re doing because they’ve seen it grow.”
The EMMC staff has received numerous accolades for their work. In 2019, EMMC was awarded three distinct honors from the Campus Safety, Health, and Environmental Management Association (CSHEMA) due to their excellent virtualization of an emergency operations center, special event calendaring, and the Year of Planning campaign. Orders is especially proud of the awards recognizing NC State’s campaigns.
“I found the novelty of campaigns is really unique in our industry, but we think it is the best way to talk to our campus community,” she said.
EMMC has numerous resources for students and faculty to engage in emergency preparedness planning such as syllabus verbiage about emergency preparedness and graphics with emergency instructions with the goal to equip university students, faculty and staff with helpful tools to further promote emergency preparedness at NC State.