Extensive Training Hallmark of Tech's Emergency Preparedness Office
Tech Tops in CERT Team Members and Certificate Program
Posted December 16, 2009 | Atlanta, GA
Considered a â€œcity within a city,â€ a university campus must be prepared to respond to both natural and human-made disasters along with the distinct risks and vulnerabilities that come with hosting a large, diverse population.
Georgia Tech's Emergency Preparedness Director, Andy Altizer, leads CERT Team training efforts on the campus challenge course.
In the emergency preparedness arena, Georgia Tech is uniquely qualified due to the diligence of the Police Departmentâ€™s Office of Emergency Preparedness. Not only does the unit develop, maintain and execute Georgia Techâ€™s emergency preparedness plan, staff members also direct emergency communication efforts that include the Georgia Tech Emergency Notification System, SmartRAD(hazardous weather notification) and the System to Create and Relay Emergency Action Messages (SCREAM). What sets the office apart from other campus preparedness offices, however, is its comprehensive training strategy.
Georgia Tech is the only college in the University System of Georgia to offer an Emergency Preparedness Certificate program. Provided in partnership with the Office of Organizational Development, the course is designed to equip participants with the tools that they need for crisis management and prevention. The program consists of five required classes and two electives. An advanced certificate program was initiated in 2008. The training module includes information on first aid, fire safety and weather hazards, and while it is geared toward building managers, anyone on campus may participate. To date, approximately 155 individuals have completed at least one class, with 65 individuals completing the certificate program. There have also been nine â€œgraduatesâ€ of the advanced certificate program.
The Emergency Preparedness Certificate program is reinforced by one of the largest collegiate contingents of Citizen Emergency Response Teams (CERT) in Georgia. Currently, Georgia Tech has 77 CERT members with four training classes planned for 2010. CERT teams, consisting of students, faculty and staff, can play a critical role following a major disaster when first responders are unable to meet initial demands. CERT members also assist with routine needs. Most recently, CERT members assisted Stamps Health Services with H1N1 vaccine clinics. In 2010 CERT training will also include Georgia Techâ€™s new Leadership Challenge Course â€“ a high-rise ropes course designed to enhance teamwork and confidence among members.
Besides coordinating preparedness training and exercises, Techâ€™s Office of Emergency Preparedness has recently received $600,000 from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The funding will be used to enhance communication capabilities, purchase high-powered security cameras and secure a replacement K9 that will take the place of Hooch, who recently retired.
â€œWe are committed to ensuring the safety of our campus community, but it requires a unified effort on all levels,â€ said Andy Altizer, director of Emergency Preparedness. â€œWe are very fortunate to have support on all levels.â€
The Georgia Institute of Technology is one of the world's premier research universities. Ranked seventh among U.S. News & World Report's top public universities and the eighth best engineering and information technology university in the world by Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Academic Ranking of World Universities, Georgia Tech’s more than 20,000 students are enrolled in its Colleges of Architecture, Computing, Engineering, Liberal Arts, Management and Sciences. Tech is among the nation's top producers of women and minority engineers. The Institute offers research opportunities to both undergraduate and graduate students and is home to more than 100 interdisciplinary units plus the Georgia Tech Research Institute.