Emory Report
August 31, 2009
Volume 62, Number 2


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August 31, 2009
Center created to respond to crises

By Margie Fishman

Imagining a campus in crisis is never easy, but it’s a job requirement for Robert Nadolski, senior administrator for Emory’s Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response (CEPAR). Starting next month, a new command center will streamline how the University’s crisis management leaders respond to emergencies, such as natural disasters, pandemics and other campus threats.

The University’s new Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is slated to open in mid-September on the second floor of the 1599 Clifton Rd. building, a former network communications center for the American Cancer Society. Outfitted with 77-inch interactive whiteboards, which allow for the sharing of live content, and a multi-user wireless audio conferencing system, cable television feeds, backup power, telephone and network communications, the center will function as a situation room for leaders to coordinate a response across multiple campus departments. While the room can accommodate 18 people, emergency personnel will also be able to rely on the advanced technology to communicate remotely.

With grants from the U.S. Department of Education and CDC funneled into administrative operations at CEPAR, that freed up funds to begin work on the center earlier this summer, says Nadolski. A temporary center is now housed in a training room of the University Police Department.

When not in use for emergency operations, the new center will serve as a collaboration suite to host virtual meetings for University Technology Services personnel, who are now dispersed among five locations on campus.

The partnership is a “win-win” that underscores the University’s commitment to sustainability, says Alan Cattier, director of academic technologies for UTS.

“We looked at the amount of traffic congestion and the time it takes to get from point A to point B, and we began looking at online collaboration,” he says.

Adds Nadolski: “We did not just want to design a room and have it sit there empty. There are lots of tools and technology that are applicable to everyday business.”

The new EOC will assist leadership in mounting a coordinated response to crises impacting the Emory community. Emory Healthcare also activates emergency operations centers when responding to a crisis.

Emory’s commitment to disaster preparedness and response is apparent in its education and research initiatives as well. The Preparedness and Emergency Response Research Center based at the Rollins School of Public Health informs local, state and national decisions on how to prepare for public health crises.

Also at the School of Public Health, the CDC has established the Emory Center of Public Health Preparedness to address preparedness training of the public health workforce in Georgia.