June 4, 2024

Staff Excellence: Office of Emergency Preparedness

With more than 52,000 students enrolled at Purdue’s West Lafayette campus, it is critical that the university has a designated department to lead emergency preparedness efforts. The Office of Emergency Preparedness does just that by providing several resources for the campus community.

From supplying a planning checklist for departments and student groups to utilize for special campus events, to managing building emergency plans, the Office of Emergency Preparedness offers a wide range of services to help keep students, faculty, staff and visitors safe.

“We are a small but mighty department,” explained Jefferson Howells, director of Emergency Preparedness. “Our department is made up of myself and Jason Philhower, who just recently joined as our program manager. We both work hard to provide guidance and implement emergency preparedness objectives and strategies.”

The PurdueALERT emergency notification system is a large focus of the department. The system is comprised of multiple communication methods to help notify the campus community in the event of an emergency. Those methods include sirens, text messages, emails, Twitter/X (@purdueemergency), digital signs, desktop pop-up alerts, classroom beacons and Boiler TV. The system is tested twice a year, and Howells hopes the community takes away at least one valuable lesson from those tests.

“It’s quite simple — if you are outside and hear a siren, go inside the nearest building,” explained Howells. “If you are inside and hear a fire alarm, go outside.”

The Office of Emergency Preparedness is also responsible for several other initiatives, including maintaining the Integrated Emergency Management Plan. The IEMP incorporates all of the university’s major emergency planning programs to provide structure and direction in case of natural or human-caused disasters. It includes the Emergency Operations Center procedures, a Building Emergency Plan template, the PurdueALERT process and the Emergency Procedures Guide. All members of the campus community should become familiar with the guide as it provides important information on procedures for various emergencies including evacuations, active threats, severe weather and hazardous material spills. These procedures are a significant component of the overall IEMP.

“It is our goal to have the IEMP act as a tool that allows our Boilermaker family to embrace preparedness concepts and ensure procedures become part of daily routines,” said Howells. “Knowledge is certainly power when it comes to emergency preparedness, and we want the community to stay vigilant in case a major emergency were to occur.”

Emergency Preparedness is part of the Administrative Operations organization. The organization supports the university by providing safe, reliable and transformative services. Making sure the campus community is prepared in the event of an emergency is just one of the ways the organization helps power Purdue.

More information about the department is available on the Emergency Preparedness website. Please watch this video to learn more about public safety at Purdue.  

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