Q: How will I know about breaking news on campus?
A: GW Campus Advisories is the principal method the Office of Emergency Management, a division of the Office of Safety and Security, and the University leadership use to communicate incident-related information to the GW community. In preparation for or during an incident, GW Campus Advisories is updated with the most recent information and University decisions.
GW Alert is an emergency notification system that provides text message and email alerts to the GW community. Update or modify your GW Alert contact information online by logging on to Banner (http://banweb.gwu.edu).
If you are unable to access the internet, the GW Information Line (202-994-5050) provides recorded voice updates. Local radio station WTOP (103.5FM) may also have late-breaking information.
Q: What can I do to prepare myself in a campus building (office, residence hall, etc.)?
A: Having access to information is the best way to be prepared, so be sure to check GW Campus Advisories often and update your GW Alert contact information (http://banweb.gwu.edu). Everyone is also encouraged to keep certain key items on hand, such as bottled water and a flashlight, and maintain an emergency preparedness kit. For office managers, it is also important to keep up-to-date employee contact lists available. Other available resources on how to build a preparedness kit can be found at Ready.gov.
Q: What if the power goes out when I am on campus?
A: Follow the directions given to you by your residence hall staff, a GW Police officer, or other University personnel. It is always a good idea to keep a flashlight or glow stick handy in the event that the lights go out. Please do NOT use candles. Above all, stay calm and sit tight. Check for updates using GW Alert or Campus Advisories.
Q: What phone number should I call if I need emergency help?
A: If you are on the Foggy Bottom or Mount Vernon campuses, call GWPD at 4-6111 from a University phone or 202-994-6111 from Foggy Bottom. For the Mount Vernon Camps call (202) 242-6111. If you are elsewhere in the city or on Virginia campus and need emergency help, call 911.
Q: If the DC metro area is affected by a large-scale incident, is there a city-wide emergency evacuation plan in place?
A: Routes for evacuation have been identified, but for most incidents, we believe the GW community is safer to remain where they are unless they are in immediate danger (e.g. fire). In the extremely unusual event that the city would be evacuated, local authorities would be responsible for sharing this information. It is very important to stay calm and stay informed via GW Alert and GW Campus Advisories.
Q: What about 4-RIDE, RAD, computer etching, bicycle registration, etc?
A: Please refer to the GW University Police Department’s (GWPD’s) Web site for information on these and other programs sponsored by GWPD. They are not under the purview of the Office of Emergency Management.
Q: How can I volunteer to help in the aftermath of an incident?
A: OEM does not currently have volunteer opportunities. However, if you are a student and a trained EMT, there may be opportunities to help with EMeRG. You may also volunteer with the community organizations, such as the American Red Cross.
In the wake of a major incident, Campus Advisories would carry information about how to register to help.
Q: How safe is DC?
A: Information on crime statistics and tips for staying safe in the city can be found at GWPD’s Web site.
Q: What does Shelter-in-Place mean?
A: Shelter-in-Place may be better thought of as “Stay-in-Place,” as this is often the safest course of action during an incident. If something happens, you will most likely be told to Shelter or Stay-in-Place, or in other words, to take shelter wherever you happen to be unless your building is affected. Find an interior room and stay away from windows. If you are outside, you should go to the nearest indoor GW location. This keeps you out of the elements, usually with resources such as water and electricity near by, and away from any outdoor threats. While sheltering in place, you should tune in your radio or TV to a local news source, check Campus Advisories and look out for GW Alert notifications as you are able.
Q: What is an “incident”?
A: An incident is anything that may disrupt what is “normal.” At GW, this means a fire in a University building, a car accident near campus that affects shuttle routes, a severe winter storm that causes classes to be cancelled, a report of a suspicious package near the Metro, or a national event that affects the entire city.
Q: How can parents stay informed?
A: Parents can check GW Campus Advisories for any advisories that may affect campus life. They are also able to have their student add their email address or phone number to the GW Alert system through Banner. WTOP can be accessed from anywhere on the planet through the Campus Advisories Web page.
Q: How do I know if classes are cancelled or delayed because of severe weather?
A: An advisory will be posted to Campus Advisories in the event that severe weather affects classes.
Q: If I notice another student acting in an unusual or threatening manner, what do I do?
A: Contact GWPD if you feel there is an immediate risk to your own or someone else’s safety. You may also contact the GW Counseling Center if you think this person needs help.
Q: What is the difference between a Contingency Plan and a Continuity of Operations Plan? Do I really need both?
A: The University requires each office or department to be covered by these plans. It may be helpful to think of Contingency and Continuity as two elements of one emergency plan.
- A Contingency Plan protects life safety in the event of an incident and is geographically based, meaning that your office’s plan should be specific to its location. In other words, what will you do in case of an immediate emergency- where will you go, what should go with you, how will you account for everyone, etc.
- A Continuity of Operations Plan critical functions. That is, it protects the job that you do, and should outline how you will continue do essential tasks in the event of an incident that may affect operations. For example, how will you do your job if you can’t use your office space for a week? More specific information can be found in the plan writing guidance (install link here) or the Incident Manual.
Q: Who can help me write a plan?
A: Once you have looked over the plan guidance available on the “Planning Guidance” tab, Emergency Management Associates are available to help you complete your plans. Email OEM@gwu.edu to make an appointment. Emergencies can be scary; preparing for them shouldn’t be.
Q: Can’t you just write the plan for me?
A: While OEM can provide helpful, one-on-one guidance and explanations about University policies, only you and those you work with can write an effective plan. Only those in your element know the people the contingency plan should cover and the critical functions that are important for your continuity of operations. Each element should have ownership over their emergency plans, update it when personnel or equipment changes, and share that plan with everyone who needs to know.
Q: Why do we have to have indoor rendezvous locations?
A: It is University policy to shelter-in-place. Therefore, if you must evacuate from the building you are currently in, you must seek shelter in another building. Being indoors protects people from weather as well as any other threats they may be exposed to outdoors. It also clears the way for first responders attempting to access the incident. Remember: do not leave your building unless you must.
Q: Do I really have to leave the building when the fire alarm goes off?
A: Yes. Fire alarms should never be ignored.
Q: I was invited to an “exercise” with OEM. What does this mean?
A: OEM my help create or facilitate exercises to help the University test its plans. If you are invited, you should receive detailed instructions on what to expect, as well as where you should be. If you have questions about expectations, you may email OEM@gwu.edu. However, OEM will not share materials or scenarios before the exercise, so that it can be as effective as possible in exercising plans and responses.
Q: How does the University respond to an incident?
A: The University has comprehensive plans which are continuously updated, personnel are trained, and routine exercises (emergency drills/scenarios) are held with campus first responders, University leaders (University Incident Teams) and departments. OEM works to foster and sustain partnerships with local, federal, and regional authorities, private and non-profit organizations, business and government neighbors, and counterparts throughout the Consortium of Universities.