An Incident Command System (ICS) is a management system designed to enable effective and efficient responses to emergencies of any scale by integrating five functional areas for management of all major incidents:
The National Precedent
The original Incident Command System was established in the mid-1970s by the US Forest Service and a number of California agencies. It was designed to improve and help coordinate responses to catastrophic wildfires in California. By 1981, ICS used widely in Southern California in response to fire and non-fire incidents, and its success led to its application in a broad variety of emergency situations.
In March 2004, ICS was included as a mandate in the National Incident Management System, which is managed by the Department of Homeland Security. It applies to federal, state, and local governments, and to all first-response agencies such as police and fire departments.
While colleges and universities are not first-response organizations, Suffolk University recognizes its role in the community, and the importance of protecting its students, faculty, and staff in the event of an emergency.
Planning for the Suffolk Incident Command System began in 2005 and still continues. Members of the Suffolk community have been certified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The Incident Command Team, chaired by the director of Budget and Risk Management has two sub groups. The ICS Core Team is comprised of Suffolk Police, Environmental Health and Safety, Deans of Students, Risk Management, Human Resources, Facilities, Government and Community Relations, Public Affairs, and Information Technology. The Core Team meets weekly to discuss campus events, incidents and response efforts. Examples of this group’s initiatives include adding phones and emergency number signage to all classrooms, developing policies for emergency response, adding emergency communication tools, H1N1 Planning, and response initiatives.
There is also an ICS Large Group that is comprised of 60 staff members from various departments across campus. This group has achieved FEMA certifications for ICS 700, 100, 200, and 300. The group meets every other month and conducts either tabletop exercises or receives information and training from various emergency response personnel. The Large Group has worked with the Massachusetts Department of Health, American Red Cross and has hosted emergency responders to guest lecture on lessons learned from past incidents. This group takes this knowledge and builds Suffolk University’s emergency response accordingly.
Suffolk University also has a separate College of Arts and Sciences Safety Committee that meets monthly. It is comprised of representatives from Environmental Health and Safety, Chemistry, Biology, Physics, NESAD, Communication/Journalism, and Electrical Engineering.
In the event of a major emergency or campus shutdown affecting the Suffolk University community, you will automatically receive an emergency communication via voice mail and text messaging. In order to have the most effective notification process it is imperative that all Suffolk community members maintain up to date emergency contact information. Students should make sure that their information is up to date in the SAIL system and staff members need to report any changes to the their contact information to Human Resources.
Shelter in Place and Fire Drills
Annually, the University conducts drills for both Shelter in Place and fires in all campus buildings. Through these drills, the University community can learn to adapt their responses appropriately should a real incident occur. All fire drills are timed and evacuation routes are analyzed for effectiveness. It is important to review a list of assembly areas for all campus buildings.
Missing Person Policy
In Accordance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, Suffolk University has developed a policy for notifying the designated emergency contact for a student who is determined to be missing. A student may be deemed missing if it is reported to appropriate University officials that the student has been unreachable via personal contact, telephone, email, or other means or electronic communication for 24 hours or more. Any employee that received notification of a missing person should notify the Suffolk University Police, who will immediately inform Risk Management and Student Affairs of the report of a missing student. Suffolk University Police will conduct an investigation in conjunction with appropriate University staff members to help determine whether or not the student is missing. If it is determined by Suffolk University Police a student has been missing for more than 24 hours, then, within the next 24 hours, the Student Affairs Office will notify the individual identified by the student as the designated emergency contact that the student has been reported missing.