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Emergency Response and Evacuation Procedures
Training and Testing Procedures
The University of Pittsburgh is proactive in planning and preparing for emergency situations and has developed Emergency Management Guidelines to provide a basic procedural framework for responding to any type of emergency at Pitt. Please review the information on emergency response and other emergency-related information found at Emergency Preparedness and Environmental Health & Safety.
Pitt Police officers have received training in incident command and participate in Active Threat exercises annually. The police depart¬ment maintains a 15-member Specialized Emergency Response Team (SERT); SERT officers are certified through the National Tactical Officers Association and they participate in emergency response training on a monthly basis. SERT officers are available 24 hours per day. Members of Pitt’s police department provide educational programs on community response to an active threat situation and other safety issues to students, staff, and faculty members.
Each fall and spring term, the University’s Emergency Notification Service (see more details on the next page) is tested with an evaluation and documentation of the test, including whether the test was announced or unannounced, maintained at the police department. At least one test will include information, including a website link, on where to find additional information about emergency response and evacuation procedures. Evacuation and/or shelter-in-place exercises are conducted in both academic and residential buildings; at least two unannounced emergency evacuation exercises are conducted for each University-owned residence hall, fraternity house, and residential apartment building during every school year.* Evacuation exercises are used as a way to educate and train building occupants on issues specific to their building. During the exercises, building occupants practice emergency procedures and familiarize themselves with the location of exits and the sound of the emergency alarm. A description of each exercise, date and time of exercise, and evaluation of the exercise is maintained by police and environmental health and safety officials. The University has an emergency preparedness coordinator/fire safety specialist to enhance preparedness of the Pitt community through the careful conduct and tracking of drills and exercises.
Each year, members of the University community conduct planned tabletop exercises that test and evaluate the University’s emergency response and evacuation procedures. Emergency executives, police, and key University personnel, along with external support agencies (such as city of Pittsburgh Police, firefighters, and paramedics as well as members of the FBI) participate in these exercises, which address evacuation or shelter-in-place of buildings on a campus-wide scale. At the conclusion of the exercises, Pitt produces a summary of its emergency response and evacuation testing.
*Due to safety concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic, evacuation drills are currently on hold for the fall term in accordance with City of Pittsburgh emergency exercise procedures.
Emergency Notification Service (ENS)
Upon confirmation of a significant emergency or dangerous situation involving an immediate threat to the health or safety of students and/or employees, Pitt’s Emergency Notification Service (ENS) will be activated without delay, unless activation will—in the professional judgment of responsible authorities—compromise efforts to assist victims, or to contain, respond to, or otherwise mitigate the emergency.
The Pittsburgh campus Emergency Executive (EE) or their designee will confirm emergencies through in-person evaluation of the situation by University Police, phone call or electronic communications with first responders and emergency response officials and/or other methods deemed appropriate by the EE or their designee for the situation. Through these communications, the EE or their designee, in collaboration with the Chief of Police or their designee, will determine if the emergency poses an immediate threat to the health or safety of the University community. If it is determined that an immediate threat exists, the EE and the Chief of Police or their designees will authorize University Police dispatchers to send an Emergency Notification (ENS) message to the campus community, which will contain the type and location of the emergency and instructions community members need to follow. Pre-scripted ENS messages will be maintained by University Police for use in appropriate situations. Emergency officials involved in confirming and/or monitoring the emergency will assist the Chief of Police or their designee in developing specific content for ENS messages. Depending on the type, size, and severity of the emergency, ENS distribution may be limited to university members that are affected by the Emergency. The Chief of Police or their designee, in coordination with the EE or their designee, will determine which segments of the community need to be notified. Follow-up ENS messages will be distributed as the situation develops.
ENS messages are distributed to faculty, staff and students through their Pitt email address. Faculty, staff and students also can sign up to receive ENS messages through text and/or voicemail. Instructions for registering for these services.
The ENS system is one aspect of a layered approach to notification. Other notification methods such as officer presence, website alerts, and local television and radio broadcasts may be used depending upon the circumstances. The University will use these other notification methods to keep the broader community informed of the emergency situation. See Pitt policy AO 07 for further details.