National Preparedness Month sparks safety efforts

In case of emergency, students may need to know what to do, where to evacuate or who to contact for help at Sonoma State University. 

The Red Cross can answer all of those questions and more through their National Preparedness Month programs and classes. 

National Preparedness Month is a nationwide effort to mobilize the American people to prepare for a disaster and build more resilient communities.

Across the country, government, businesses and non-profit organizations are holding drills, classes and promoting the importance of “Make a Plan, Build a Kit, Be Informed.” 

The American Red Cross has developed free apps that make critical information about what to do before, during and after disasters easily accessible on mobile devices.

 The apps include a “Make A Plan” feature that provides step-by-step guidance to help families develop a customized emergency plan. 

Tim Miller, the Regional Executive Director for the six counties of Sonoma, Mendocino, Napa, Lake, Humboldt and Del Norte, commented on what some of the do’s and don’ts’ of being prepared in the event of an emergency are.

“There are many, but some of the key ‘do’s’ are: Make a Plan, Build a Kit, Be Informed; turn to the radio and social media for information, make sure you communicate with those you love as soon as possible after the event.” 

Miller also advises students to not panic in times of emergency and to not expect immediate response from emergency personnel. He also said, “Don’t panic, run for the door     

The director for emergency management and continuity planning, Missy Brunetta, is responsible for the University’s emergency planning and preparedness.  

“As required by federal, state, and CSU laws and regulations, the university maintains a Emergency Operations Plan (EOP),” said Brunetta.

  The University prepares for a variety of emergencies, including earthquakes, extreme weather, fire, active shooter, epidemic/pandemics, hazardous materials incidents, significant utility outages and drought. 

“This plan calls for a variety of responses based on the nature, significance and impact of an emergency or disaster on the ability of the university to operate normally,” said Brunetta. “While we have been very fortunate to have not had to activate all aspects of the emergency plan, the plan itself is utilized on a daily basis in how we remain prepared for an emergency.”

The University is continuously practicing emergency drills to test our plan and our preparedness, maintains a supply of emergency food, water and other supplies, participates in local, county-wide, regional and statewide mutual aid and cooperative relationships that increase our ability to respond during and after an emergency.

“The safety of our students, faculty and staff is our number one priority.  We also recognize the need for us to return to teaching and providing core services to students as soon as possible after an emergency,” said Brunetta.

Starting this semester, the campus has implemented a new emergency notification system for the students and faculty.  

This system will send out text messages, emails and phone calls in the event of a major emergency.  Students are advised to sign into their MySSU accounts and update their contact information and cell phone number. 

As part of the Campus Safety Week, Oct. 13, the campus will participate in the Great American Shakeout earthquake drill.  

At 10:16 a.m. on Oct. 16, everyone on campus will be asked to participate in a “Drop, Cover and Hold” drill.  The emergency notification system will also be tested during this drill.