As part of Saint Xavier University’s (SXU) emergency preparedness efforts, the Department of Public Safety every April participates in a tabletop simulated disaster drill with a cohort of twelve area universities and colleges that make up the South Metropolitan Higher Education Consortium (SMHEC).
The consortium is a mutual aid response group that includes the following colleges and universities: DeVry University; Governors State University; Illinois Institute of Technology; Joliet Junior College; Kankakee Community College; Lewis University; Moraine Valley Community College; Northwestern College; Prairie State College; South Suburban College; Saint Xavier University; and University of St. Francis.
The consortium’s goal is to provide a lifeline of immediate essential services in the event of a man-made or weather-related disaster occurring at any of the participating colleges and universities. Our desire is to quickly mitigate the event and provide a safe haven of services to our students, staff, and faculty.
On April 7, 8, and 9, the consortium members activated the mutual aid system to respond to a simulated table top disaster affecting one of the member universities on each day. SXU Director of Emergency Management and Preparedness Erin Laske put together the scenario for this year’s disaster. The scenario involved a gas explosion that caused loss of life, injuries, and property damage at the affected university. A second element of the disaster included a cyber-breach of the university’s technology system, which caused further communication and dissemination problems.
During the April 7 drill, SXU assumed the responsibility of dispatching the mutual aid services for another affected university. SXU Dispatch Supervisor Fred Frazzini, fielded the call from the affected university and followed up with resource requests to four responding universities.
The drill scenario went smoothly over the three-day event. Each year, April brings to light ideas from actual responders and observers allowing us to tweak and correct any issues affecting our response. While the affected universities changed during the three-day drill, the overall goal was to exercise the capabilities and response times of the assisting universities and identify any changes necessary in order to provide the most efficient response in the event of an actual emergency. Participation in this drill is one more way in which SXU tests its’ emergency response efforts. Multiple drills of various efforts are exercised yearly.