Schools nationwide are re-evaluating security and crisis strategies following last week’s unprecedented terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.
UW-Madison officials, including UW Police Chief Susan Riseling and UW Chancellor John Wiley, are meeting to discuss how security is being handled campus-wide in light of the attacks.
“Everyone across the country is reviewing safety and security issues that involve any large gathering of people,” Wiley said. “We always worry about it, and right now that is a little heightened.”
According to John Harrod, UW Physical Plant director, the school has devised a plan to deal with emergency situations.
“We have been working with UW Police for some time, putting together an emergency plan that has been under development for six months now,” Harrod said. “Last week that plan was activated.”
The Campus Emergency Response Plan brings together various campus officials to evaluate such emergencies as bomb threats or national crises and quickly make a strategic decision about how the campus will secure itself.
“At all times we try to make the place as secure as we can,” Wiley said. “I don’t want to give anyone a false sense of hope, but when unexpected threats or events occur that present ongoing damage, [this] provides the most effective plan of security we can mobilize.”
Wiley said the response plan outlines strategies in increasing communication outlets between officials, evacuation procedures and other emergency events.
“A lot of it would depend on what the situation is and where it would occur,” Harod said. “That’s basically what the first response would do: assess the situation and see what needs to be done. But to say we have a secure plan for everyone on campus, I don’t know if I can say that.”
Wiley said he has been meeting closely with a team of UW officials, including Riseling, to re-examine this plan. The UWPD is not releasing specifics about their plans for security purposes, but say they would be prepared if anything were to happen.
“Plans are in effect for any kind of major campus events,” UWPD Lieutenant Todd Kuschel said.
Riseling said UWPD are taking careful steps to ensure safety at such campus events as football games.
“I want to reassure people that there is significant preparation and coordination before each of our home football games,” Riseling said in a press release. “The tragic events of last week will be factored in accordingly and will be a priority as we move forward.”
Wiley recently requested that the Federal Aviation Administration establish a temporary no-fly zone above Camp Randall Stadium during the game.
“[We have a] concern about how people would feel seeing aircraft flying around the stadium at such a close proximity,” said Casey Nagy, executive assistant to Wiley. “While any possibility of a copycat incident is remote, in the immediate aftermath you’re more likely to have a copycat incident.”
Wiley is awaiting a decision by FAA officials, who claim a number of these requests have been filed over the past week.
The UW hospital is also prepared to handle disaster. Hospital spokesperson Tim Le Monds said the hospital will meet with Dane County officials to work on bio-terrorism issues.
The hospital also hosts a team of security personnel that oversee the buildings on a daily basis.
“We perform drills regularly for different scenarios,” said Le Monds.
The UW hospital is part of the National Disaster Medical System that cooperates with hospitals around the country to ensure victims get any sort of care they need.
Last Tuesday the system called on both University Hospital and Meriter Hospital to be available for excess burn victims or other victims from areas where hospitals may be full, but neither hospital needed to take in surplus patients.
“We are able to handle multi-victims in an event of an emergency,” said Le Monds. “It’s sort of a ripple effect. Patients are diverted to the next hospital, and it just works its way further and further [across America].”
The plan called upon multiple hospitals to treat excess patients, but Milwaukee was the furthest Midwestern point needed.