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Superintendent/President Message

Nov. 28, 2012

We’re Getting Prepared

Among the first things members of the Southwestern College community told me upon my arrival was that we had talked a lot, and even hired a consultant for emergency preparedness, but that many felt our progress had stalled. The last emergency drill was conducted years ago, several people told me.

Over the last year, much work has been done, thanks to the efforts of the college’s Public Safety Committee. Our Hazard Mitigation Plan has been submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and we have updated the District Emergency Operations and Campus Emergency Plans. In the next few months, we’ll be developing specific plans for each of the Higher Education Centers and the Crown Cove Aquatic Center.

Another key component of the district’s emergency preparedness plan is implementing an emergency notification system. This is a two-fold effort that includes notifying all students and staff through telephone and text message in the case of an emergency, and installing emergency phone tower “blue poles” security system with emergency broadcast capability.

I am happy to report that after months of research and interviews with five different vendors, we are ready to sign an agreement with a vendor that will give us mass notification software for emergencies and college outreach. The software will be up and running in the spring semester. It will pull contact information from Colleague. So now is a good time to ensure your home and cell phone numbers are up-to-date in the system.

The “blue pole” security system has also been moving along. A vendor has been identified and a preliminary map of where the blue light poles will be located throughout campus has been created. The installation of this system is included in the Proposition R implementation timeline.

With these initiatives comes the need for training.

And thanks to Police Chief Michael Cash, our training efforts are moving forward quickly. Already, Chief Cash—who is a certified trainer—is holding trainings for the teams that will be responsible for managing and responding to emergencies throughout the district.

Beginning next month, all employees will have an opportunity to participate in trainings that will help them preserve their personal safety as well as the safety of fellow employees and students. The trainings will be offered twice monthly from December through May. The chief is also available to hold departmental trainings throughout the spring semester.

As we move forward in strengthening our emergency preparedness, we can all play a role.