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Emergency management grant awarded to UConn

by Mary Lou Sullivan - October 20, 2008

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded a $500,000 Emergency Management for Higher Education grant to the University of Connecticut’s Center for Continuing Studies to fund a state-of-the-art behavior threat assessment model.

“In the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy, it becomes increasingly important for higher education institutions to shift their focus from a strategy based purely on response to one based much more strongly on prevention,” says Neal Olderman, UConn’s principal investigator for the grant.

“The overarching goal of this project is to enhance the University’s commitment to a safe learning and working environment that collaborates with off-campus partners in advancing a supportive community that is free of threats and violence.”

The threat assessment model will be incorporated into UConn’s existing emergency management plans, and will involve students, faculty, staff and surrounding community members.

The program will also include a computerized crisis leadership simulation, as well as classroom discussions and exercises for senior officials.

Specialized training in behavior threat assessment and crisis leadership will be provided to UConn staff, faculty, students, and local government and local health district officials during an 18-month period.

An awareness training session, designed for UConn students, faculty, staff, and partners from the Town of Mansfield and the Eastern Highlands Health District, will explain the behavioral threat assessment model and how it will be integrated into UConn’s existing emergency plan.

Once the assessment model is integrated, an executive briefing will be held for senior University personnel and partner agencies.

The final phase will include exercises to reinforce learning, and evaluate and test that plan. Key University officials and representatives from local partners will receive National Incident Management System training throughout the period.

“This funding will allow UConn to enhance our existing emergency management and continuity of operations plans, which were developed and implemented in conjunction with the Connecticut Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and local emergency management and public health agencies, first responders, and campus personnel,” says Robert S. Hudd, associate vice president for public and environmental safety.

“Planned exercises include a series of increasingly complex events ranging from seminars, to tabletop and functional exercises custom designed for UConn and its local partners. Scenarios will be based on potential incidents, including behavioral threats that could lead to injuries, as well as community health-related scenarios, such as a pandemic influenza.”

Training will be designed and delivered by nationally recognized leaders in their respective fields.

They include former Special Agents from the U.S. Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center who collaborated with the U.S. Department of Education on the Safe Schools Initiative, and a former top administrator from the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security who has extensive experience in emergency planning, developing university and agency partnerships, policy, and strategy research.

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