April 17, 2013
A Recreation Perspective
Kristen Brosius, M.Ed.
Mary Kate McMahon, M.Ed
June 1, 2011 started like any other late spring day in New England. While a majority of students on the Springfield College campus had gone home for the summer, the recreation facility was bubbling with activity, including summer camps, children’s swim lessons, recreational exercising, and group exercise classes. As the afternoon approached, the sky began to look grey and ominous. Because a tornado is such a rare occurrence in western Massachusetts, few took the tornado warning seriously and continued about their day. Against all odds, a funnel cloud touched down near campus at 4:23 p.m. Instantly, the student and professional campus recreation staff became responsible for the safety of over one hundred visiting patrons.
In any campus recreation setting, planning for a disaster or crisis is an essential component of a comprehensive risk and crisis management plan. The crisis management cycle described by Dunkel, Rollo, and Zdziarski (2007) details the stages: planning, prevention, response, recovery and learning. While many of these steps are tackled on an institutional level, a campus recreation department should have its own highly organized emergency action plan.