Emergency response and evacuation procedures
As required by federal and state law, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has a comprehensive emergency operation plan that details immediate response and evacuation procedures, including the use of electronic and cellular communication. The university’s Campus Emergency Operations Plan includes information about Incident Management Teams, university operating status parameters, incident priorities, shelter-in-place and evacuation guidelines, and overall command and control procedures. University departments are responsible for developing their own building emergency action plans and continuity of operations plans for their staff and areas of responsibility.
As a part of the comprehensive emergency operation plan for the university, regularly scheduled drills, exercises, and follow-through activities are conducted annually. All tests are documented with description of exercise, date, time and whether announced or unannounced. Appropriate after-action reports are completed and submitted to the State of Illinois for review pursuant to the Illinois Campus Security Enhancement Act. After-action reports detail lessons learned, and follow-up items are identified with responsibilities assigned to appropriate campus entities. The university’s Basic Emergency Operation Plan, compliant with the Illinois Campus Security Enhancement Act, is posted on the Division of Public Safety website for use with campus exercises. The university conducts an annual announced or unannounced test centering on procedures to test the university’s emergency response and evacuation procedures. A follow-up mass email to the campus community publicizes the results of this test.
Evacuation drills are coordinated by University Housing. Campus Code Compliance and Fire Safety and local fire departments are invited to participate. Drills are typically conducted each semester for all university residence halls to ensure that emergency response and evacuation procedures are tested at least twice each year. Students living in university residence halls are provided with the locations of emergency exits in the buildings and are provided guidance about the direction they should travel when exiting each facility for a short-term building evacuation. Residents are not told in advance about the designated locations for long-term evacuations because those decisions are affected by time of day, the location of the building being evacuated, the availability of various designated emergency gathering locations on campus and other factors such as the location and nature of the threat.
In the case of a long-term evacuation, University Housing staff and/or first responders on scene will communicate information to students regarding the developing situation or any evacuation status changes.
The purpose of evacuation drills is to prepare building occupants for an organized evacuation in case of a fire or other emergency. At the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, evacuation drills are used to educate and train occupants on fire safety issues specific to their building. Prior to conducting drills, University Housing residents are provided a brochure with emergency evacuation information.
Additionally, evacuation routes are posted on the doors of residence hall rooms. During drills, occupants practice procedures and familiarize themselves with the location of exits and the sound of the fire alarms. In addition to educating occupants about the evacuation procedures during the drills, the process also provides the university an opportunity to test the operation of fire alarm system components.
Evacuation drills are evaluated by University Housing staff, Code Compliance and Fire Safety, and local fire departments to review egress and behavioral patterns. Reports are prepared by participating departments that identify deficient equipment so that repairs can be made immediately. Recommendations for improvements are also submitted to the appropriate departments/offices for consideration.
Students who reside in university residence halls receive information about evacuation and shelter-in-place procedures during their first floor meetings and during other educational sessions throughout the year. University Housing staff members are trained in these procedures as well and act as an ongoing resource for the students living in residential facilities.
There may be emergencies that arise that do not afford individuals the opportunity to evacuate. During these types of emergency situations, sheltering in place may be necessary. Sheltering in place means to stay inside a known, safe area to avoid adverse conditions in an exterior environment. Examples of emergencies where the shelter-in-place option may be necessary and/or preferred include severe weather or an active threat situation. This may also include a fire emergency for people with access and functional needs who are not able to leave the building on their own or if elevator control is limited during a fire.
Basic shelter-in-place guidance
If an incident occurs that does not present a safe opportunity to evacuate, find an immediate place of safety and stay there until it is safe to come out. This may include locking the door(s) or barricading the ingress/egress point(s) of the area you are occupying. It may also include covering the windows to decrease visibility of the occupied area.
If an incident occurs where a shelter-in-place option is not possible, leave the area immediately following the evacuation procedures for your building. Follow the directions of police and/or fire personnel if they are on scene at the incident.
How you will know to shelter in place
A shelter-in-place notification may come from several sources, including University Police (via the Illini-Alert emergency notification system), other university employees or other authorities utilizing the university’s emergency communications tools.
How to shelter in place
If an incident occurs where sheltering-in-place is the best option, follow the steps below, unless instructed otherwise by emergency personnel. These steps should only be followed if safe to do so:
- When you learn of the emergency, seek or remain in a safe location.
- When you are in a safe location, secure and barricade any entry point with whatever you have around you — desks, chairs, or maybe a belt.
- Stay in the safe area and remain quiet, unless making noise would be beneficial to your safety (for instance, in a rescue or recovery).
- Stay away from objects which may lead to an injury.
- Do not leave the area of safety until you are notified that the emergency is no longer a threat to personal safety.