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Expecting the Unexpected

University Business, September 2015
Chuck McGinnis
Chuck McGinnis

Ten years ago Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and many other Gulf coast communities. Homes destroyed. Businesses underwater. Tulane University’s uptown and downtown campuses were flooded, dispersing students, faculty and staff around the country. Yet, within months the university opened its doors to more than 12,000 students and 5,000 faculty and staff for the spring semester. An almost impossible feat, if not for the collective work of university officials and the right building experts.

Tulane University’s rejuvenation is a success story. Now in 2015, Johnson Controls higher education director Chuck McGinnis shares important tips for universities, large and small, that may face the threat of severe weather or unexpected emergencies. Preparation is key.

Remember the domino-effect
Consider the accumulated risks that result from “falling dominoes” in emergency situations. If a system or process fails, what will happen next? Developing a hazard assessment plan with a buildings expert for your infrastructure and operations will prove valuable.

Back-up plans for your back-up plans 
Work with a buildings partner to assess your campus-wide infrastructure. Develop a back-up power plan. Ensure the proper IT and various system integrations have the proper redundancies. Also, consider developing a supply of materials that may be needed during a severe weather event.

Assess your notification process
During a weather or safety emergency, far too many institutions learn too late that their notification processes are outdated or unsuccessful. Consult with building experts, who have successful mitigated risk for higher education organizations, to audit your mass notification technologies and resources.

Staff training is critical
Assess the readiness of your staff in the event of a disaster. Remember, when severe weather hits you may not have access to cell phone service, for example. Understand, in advance, how you can reach a building expert for rental services, such as emergency generators.

For more information, visit www.johnsoncontrols.com/cacubo

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