Emergency Contact List

April 07, 2011

Making Sure Key People are in the Loop

Jim Langel
Associate Director, Facility Management
University of Northern Iowa

When an emergency takes place in your facility or during a university sponsored event, you want all facets of your Emergency Action Plan to function smoothly and cover every detail to insure the best care possible for those affected. Once every detail of your Policies and Procedures Manual is implemented perfectly and the participant is in the best possible hands you have to ask, “Is there anything left to do?”

If you have not started contacting the necessary people on your Emergency Contact List then the answer is “Yes”. Some things you do not want to have happen is for the wrong information getting to the media, or (worse still), for your President, Vice President, or other key staff finding out about the event through the media, especially if the event ended with tragic results. It is vital that you have an Emergency Contact List prepared in advance, and activate it as soon as possible.

Media coverage can be beneficial and often assists our institutions by giving us positive publicity during on campus events. However, they do have a job to do — which includes the reporting of news as quickly as possible. If there is a tragedy within your program the media will find out and they will report as much information as they can in their next broadcast. Your institution will want to make sure that information is as accurate as possible, and to do this you will need to contact Media Relations staff immediately following the incident. They should then direct all contact with the media.

Then you will want to contact the people that you have designated on your Emergency Contact List. An example of an Emergency Contact List would be:

The Department Director or an Associate Directors is responsible for making the necessary contacts which can include:

  • The department Director’s immediate supervisor (e.g. Vice President/ Associate VP/ Director of P.E. Department/ Athletics Director). This person will then determine who else to call ‘up the ladder’.
  • University Counselor on call and/or Counseling Director.
  • University Health Clinic Director or Health/Wellness Services.
  • Media Relations Director.
  • University Police.
  • Department Staff members who were not involved.
  • Athletic Director and/or Director of Physical Education Department (if it is a shared facility)
  • University attorneys and/or Risk Management Team.
  • Other University Departments as deemed necessary.

This contact list may vary depending on reporting structures and resources on campus. However, regardless of the structure, each institution should have a designated department or contact list to work with in the event of major incidents.

It is important to have office, home and cell phone numbers for each individual if possible. When the above Emergency Contact List was put into action following a death in our recreation facility, all pertinent personnel were contacted within an hour of the incident. More importantly, the student staff was shielded from dealing with the media, and counselors were in the recreation center in less than 20 minutes to talk with the staff members involved. Thanks to this list being in place and plans made in advance, all of this took place even though it was a weekend evening when the incident occurred.

No one ever wants to have to use an Emergency Contact List, but it is a vital component of a comprehensive Emergency Policies and Procedures Manual. Even in the best run facilities with good policies and procedures in place, accidents and incidents will occur. While it is important to be prepared to handle the situation effectively, you also to be ready to implement your post-emergency communications plan so that key people are brought into the loop.

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