Much progress has been made on numerous aspects of preparedness since the college established the Situation Readiness & Response Team in 2001. The seven-member SRT meets over twenty times a year to continue enhancing our ability to respond nimbly and compassionately to any crucial event. Click these titles for a summary of some things we pressently have in place.
In 2008, Westmont undertook development of an Institutional Resilience Framework (IRF; initially called a Critical Incident Management Plan). The iRF assists with a comprehensive, coordinated response to business interruptions of any nature. Over time the IRF will continue being refined in conformity with applicable best practices of various national standards for emergency management. The IRF is developed in alignment with our statement of Crisis Essentials.
Because of the unpredictable nature of developing crises, and the wide range of human responses, even the best planning cannot prevent an element of chaos as a dynamic situation unfolds. Without overlooking that no circumstance escapes the sovereignty of God, we aim to foster a "culture of readiness" at Westmont by educating our people, and by having in place the fundamental systems, supplies and training that will provide a flexible framework for the creative solutions that must be crafted "on the fly."
Internal methods include:
- Residence Hall sessions
- Chapel ads
- Horizon ads
- Dorm flyers
- Response Channels
- Notification system (IRIS; includes email, text messages, phone calls; pre-planned messages)
- Area Response Team (radios in each key building) ; word of mouth; phone tree
- Walkie-talkies; multi-frequency professional radios; satellite phones; bullhorns; fire alarms
- Emergency agency radios and scanners
- Website; Crisis Hotline (888/565-7911); remote web and voicemail servers
Target audiences include:
- Response Teams
- Executive Team
- Emergency agencies
- Construction workers
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Advance preparedness elements include: [see footnote re Urban Program*]
- Training: primary responders, plus four additional levels of backup for each; organized by Incident Command System roles
- Exercises: In compliance with the Clery Act, and in addition to other supportive activities, Westmont conducts a pre-announced major annual exercise called ReadyDay (typically on the second Tue after commencement) to test our emergency response and evacuation procedures.
- Equipment: go-kits; earthquake and wildfire supply caches
- Information systems and resources: rosters; satellite dishes
- Facilities: three sites prepared to serve as Emergency Operations Centers; access keys and codes
- Active agency cooperation: Montecito Fire; County Sheriff; City and County Offices of Emergency Services; California Highway Patrol; Red Cross
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Our mantra is "Go to the Gym". Here's why:
- The Gym is a prominent gathering point. If there's time to leave campus and the route is clear, this is a good place to coordinate everyone.
- The Gym is a designated safe zone. If it's safest to stay, the gym has proven to be a good shelter.
- The Fire Department will advise us. They will know if the route and timing support going or staying.
- If time is short you’re safer here. Leaving late can be dangerous. Lives have been lost elsewhere fleeing fires too late.
Because the disaster planning experts often say, "The first 72 are up to you", our target is to provide the basics (life-sustaining shelter, nutrition, hydration, and medical care) for up to 1,200 people for up to three days. Most of the required supplies are already in place, yet we constantly increase our inventory and expand our training.
- Supplies include shelter, hydration & nutrition, sanitation & hygiene, basic medical, communications, lighting and office material.
- Plans are based upon the national standard Incident Command System, and include key elements of shelter mobilization and management as practiced by the American Red Cross.
The media attention to "swine flu" (aka H1N1) has raised concerns about how communities can work together to minimize its impacts. Westmont's Student Health Center has taken the lead in coming up with recommendations to help the college respond appropriately.
- Personal hygiene is key. It is the single most important factor in preventing infection. Everyone should wash hands often, and use the sanitizers found in public gathering places all over campus.
- A cold & flu kit is recommended for all students to assemble/purchase and keep in their dorm room.
- Vaccinations will be offered at the Student Health Center when available from suppliers. Details can be found at the link just below here.
- Social distancing is the new byword for having people keep their bugs to themselves. When feasible for students to be cared for by family at home, that's preferable. When there's no where else to go, students should remain in their room until 24 hours have passed with no fever (and no fever-reducing medication). The Residence Life staff will assist in coordinating meals.
While we have an idyllic setting and a terrific cadre of high quality students, we don't believe that
"It can't happen here." We maintain a very good finger on the pulse of our student body, but we still want to be poised to guard our students' safety as much as possible. To that end, our preparations include the following:
- Set up a coordinated review plan so that our Student Life, Residence Life, Campus Life, Health Center and Counseling Center (along with our College Counsel) collaborate to identify and support students who may need extra encouragement and guidance
- Established a network of Building Wardens to promptly take advantage of available security
- Invested in the IRIS Notification System for rapid distribution of alert messages
- Offer students ready access to the training video titled "Shots Fired on Campus", an excellent primer on how to respond if the unthinkable occurs
- Maintain ongoing awareness of evolving recommendations for how to cope with the shooter phenomena, adapting our plans accordingly.
One of our five key mission aims is that our students become global citizens. To encounter and process one's experience of other cultures is a vital part of achieving that aim. Hundreds of students are outside the US every year. Among the ways we guard their safety are these:
- Pre-travel orientation programs for students and faculty, dealing with safety, cross-cultural sensitivity, and so on
- Special insurance policies designed for foreign travel exposure
- Advance arrangements for assistance with medical or political evacuations
- Expectation management through use of participation agreements, travel manuals, health care forms
- An eight-party network of advisors to assist with whatever situation may arise (international assistance provider; security consultant; crisis management team; and others)
Our Institutional Resilience Framework addresses the essentials of business continuity planning (to enable swift post-incident recovery). We will also enhance our readiness for a wide range of eventualities, including:
- Building fire
- Construction accident
- Other threats
- Hazmat / Utility incident
- Death or major injury on campus
- Medical / psychological situations
- Bomb threat
* - The Westmont in San Francisco Program campus participates in regular earthquake training and education, and is equipped with shelter and nutrition supplies for use in the event of earthquake. [Return to Readiness section above]