Skip to content
COVID-19 response: What you need to know

Campus Emergency Operations Plan

The Campus Emergency Operations Plan is what we use to prepare for and respond to any kind of large-scale emergency on our campus, including both natural and man-made disasters. It outlines specific actions in support of local and Champaign County response and recovery activities.

View the Campus Emergency Operations Plan

Emergency response and evacuation procedures

As required by federal and state law, the University of Illinois 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.

We provide a separate emergency response and evacuation procedure for those who work or study at the Illini Center in Chicago.

As a part of the comprehensive emergency operation plan for the University, regularly scheduled drills, exercises, and follow-through activities are conducted annually. All exercises are documented and 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 that are completed detail lessons learned, and follow-up items are identified with responsibilities assigned to appropriate campus entities. The University’s Basic Emergency Operation Plan, which is compliant with the Illinois Campus Security Enhancement Act, is posted on the Division of Public Safety website to be used in conjunction with campus exercises.

Evacuation drills are coordinated by University Housing, Code Compliance and Fire Safety and local fire departments 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 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, location of the building being evacuated, the availability of the various designated emergency gathering locations on campus, and other factors such as the location and nature of the threat. In these cases, 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 at Urbana-Champaign, evacuation drills are used as a way 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 resident 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 they can participate in throughout the year. University Housing staff members are trained in these procedures as well and act as an on-going resource for the students living in residential facilities.

Shelter-in-place procedures

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 (tornado) or an active shooter situation. This may also include a fire emergency for persons with functional needs that are not able to leave the building on their own or if the elevator is recalled 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 of the incident.

How you will know to shelter in place

A shelter-in-place notification may come from several sources, including the University of Illinois Police Department (via the Illini-Alert emergency notification system), the Office of Public Affairs, 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 these steps, unless instructed otherwise by emergency personnel:

These steps should only be followed if safe to do so:

  • Once aware of the emergency, seek or remain in a location deemed safe from the affected area.
  • Once within a safe area, attempt to secure the space in whatever reasonable manner is applicable.
  • Stay in the area of safety and remain quiet, unless making noise would be beneficial to your safety (i.e. rescue or recovery).
  • Stay away from objects which may lead to an injury.

Emergency notification procedures

If a situation arises that poses a verified, imminent or ongoing threat to the safety, security or health of students or employees, an emergency notification will be issued via Illini-Alert to expedite emergency response and evacuation procedures. The goal of an emergency notification is to alert as many people as possible, as rapidly as possible, with adequate follow-up information as needed. Follow-up information will be available through the Illini-Alert emergency notification system on a case-by-case basis. If follow-up information is critical to the community, it may be disseminated using additional mechanisms at the discretion of the Executive Director of Public Safety or designee. Additional mechanisms may include public media outlets, NOAA emergency alert radios, UI-7, 265-UIPD or the telephone alert directory. Emergency notifications are issued for incidents such as an active threat or active shooter, major hazardous materials release, major fire, extended power outage, infectious disease outbreak, or a tornado that would directly impact campus.

The university has implemented a formal process that gives the Executive Director of Public Safety, and/or designee the authority to do the following:

  • Confirm a significant emergency or dangerous situation;
  • Develop the content and determine the appropriate segment(s) of the campus community to receive the notification;
  • Initiate some or all of the campus alert systems to send an emergency notification to the campus community.

The process also stipulates that an immediate emergency message will not be sent if, in the professional judgment of authorities, the message would compromise efforts to assist a victim, or to contain, respond to or otherwise mitigate the emergency. The Executive Director of Public Safety and/or designee may also consult directly with Public Affairs to ensure an immediate, timely notification to the campus using the emergency notification mechanisms mentioned previously.