Hazard Mitigation Plan update looks to assure safety to students and faculty

Published by adviser, Author: Amber Cannon - Assistant News Editor, Date: November 12, 2014
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Slippery Rock University will be working with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) to prepare an updated Hazard Mitigation Plan that will help the university reduce its risk to hazards, better protect students, faculty and staff and also help to reduce long-term costs.

Tracey Vernon, Pennsylvania mitigation hazard consultant planner, led a meeting on Tuesday during common hour discussing the plan.

According to Vernon, the process of creating a Hazard Mitigation Plan includes several different steps.

“The is a step by step process that includes gathering information from stakeholders, developing a risk assessment to identify specific hazards, assessing the capabilities of the university, and developing mitigation, maintenance and adoption strategies,” Vernon said.

Vernon said that the last mitigation plan was updated in 2008, hitting the five year mark for the university to update the plan again.

A hazard vulnerability survey was sent to students via email that asked what hazards they thought were dangerous to SRU campus and also what they would like to see done about the hazards. Vernon informed students and faculty of the results from the hazard vulnerability survey.

According to the survey, students selected 15 risk hazards that they would like to be examined by PASSHE. The hazards range from high risk, moderate risk, and low risk.

The high risk hazards are winter storms, transportation accidents, terrorism, tornado and wind storms, and environmental hazards, such as material releases. The moderate risk hazards are extreme temperatures, nuclear accidents, utility interruptions, lightening strikes, pandemics, war and criminal activity, and flash floods. The low risk hazards include a building or structure collapse, civil disturbances and earthquakes.

Vernon mentioned that one of the main reasons why students named winter storms the number one risk hazard was because there was a record of 17 inches of snowfall in one day last year during the winter. In the survey, it was noted that there were several two hour delays last year and even a cancellation. Vernon also mentioned that the Slippery Rock Student Government Association held a meeting last year that identified that severe weather has resulted in a numerous interruptions to classes, including treacherous walking and driving conditions and power outages.

“These winter storm hazards are also being looked at by the Slippery Rock Borough and it has become a serious issue in Butler County that has caused them to look at it as well,” Vernon said.

Another very popular high risk hazard on the survey that students identified as being a problem at SRU was traffic accidents. Vernon said the survey mentioned that the congestion of daily traffic on campus leads to emergency vehicles not being able to reach their destinations, which students said can cause serious problems in situations such as medical, civil and criminal reports to campus and borough police.

Going forward, Vernon said that PASSHE is working with the Slippery Rock Steering Committee to make a plan that will accommodate and guide students, faculty, and staff through a safety process just in case any of these hazards occur.

“We’re going to be taking a close look at all the different hazards and making sure that we have common and consistent protocols for each of the hazards listed,” Vernon said.

An electronic copy of the draft of the Hazard Mitigation Plan will be available for download and review on Dec. 5 at www.sruhmp.com.

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