News and Analysis


office of emergency management

Monday, Nov. 24, 2014 11:00 p.m.

Got Ebola? Let GW know

Do you think you have Ebola? GW wants to know.

The University blasted its protocol on the virus to students Monday in preparation of some traveling to affected countries during the holidays.

Students who travel to an Ebola-affected country this Thanksgiving break are asked to contact the Office of Emergency Management before and after visiting the country. GW is also asking the students to inform officials of their exact travel dates and locations visited.

Students who think they may have been in contact with a person who has Ebola are also asked to contact the office at (202) 994-4936.

GW faculty and staff are asked to follow the same policies, and if they potentially come into contact with someone infected, the employees will receive full pay if they follow Center for Disease Control and Prevention protocol and telecommute if requested to do so.

The University has already banned all business- and education-related travel by students, faculty and staff to the countries primarily impacted by the Ebola epidemic, including Guinea, Liberia, Mali and Sierra Leone.

It’s the first time officials have announced its contingency plan for dealing with a potential Ebola outbreak on campus. It comes weeks after some Ebola patients were treated in the U.S.

University President Steven Knapp encouraged GW community members to receive flu shots last month to help calm fears about Ebola because of the similarity of the symptoms of the two diseases.

One patient at Howard University Hospital last month was thought to have Ebola but tested negatively for the virus. Another patient at GW Hospital was tested for the virus but was later determined to have the flu.

Nearly 5,500 people have died from the epidemic according to the latest figures released by the World Health Organization.

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UPD, university police

The University Police Department will operate out of the Academic Center starting next week, after 20 years in the Woodhull House. Hatchet File Photo

The University Police Department will begin operating out of the Academic Center next week, more than a year after the initial announcement of the move.

The switch in headquarters will centralize offices within the Office of Safety and Security, including the Office of Emergency Management and Office of Health and Safety. They will move to Phillips Hall Aug. 14, and UPD will shift into connected Rome Hall the next day, according to a Campus Advisory released Thursday.

University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard said UPD’s operations would not be affected by the move out of the Woodhull House at 21st and G streets and into the Academic Center at 22nd and H streets.

“There will not be any degradation in capability to dispatch officers, monitor alarm systems or respond to emergency calls, and it will be a seamless transition to [the Academic Center],” Sherrard said in an email.

The relocation makes way for the GW Museum, a $22 million project approved by the D.C. Zoning Commission in May that will connect the Woodhull House with a new building made of limestone, creating a home for the Textile Museum and D.C. artifacts.

The move was scheduled to take place last summer, but plans were postponed until the Division of Information Technology – formerly housed in the Academic Center – could shift into leased space at 21st and M streets.

UPD Chief Kevin Hay said in April that the new headquarters will feature additional computers for dispatch and an upgraded hand-held radio system. Six officers told The Hatchet in February that radio equipment used to call for back-up was faulty to the point of uselessness. Hay has stressed that the equipment upgrade is not due to dysfunction.

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Senior Associate Vice President for Safety and Security Darrell Darnell responded to recent concerns from the campus community about GW's reaction to emergencies in a forum at the Jack Morton Auditorium Thursday night. Avra Bossov | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Nadav Gavrielov.

The University’s top safety and security official sought to address recent concerns about GW’s response toward on- and off-campus emergencies in a forum at the Jack Morton Auditorium Thursday night.

The forum, led by Senior Associate Vice President for Safety and Security Darrell Darnell, included a question and answer format that allowed members of the GW community to voice their inquiries in-person and online as a way to better understand how the University’s emergency management team operates.

“What I’d like to do is talk about a few things that have come up as I have talked with students going around campus, students have emailed me, things we’ve heard over the last week or so quite frankly to really give you, I hope, a better understanding or a clearer understanding of why we do some of the things we do,” Darnell, who helped found the Center for Homeland Defense and Security before joining GW last year, said.

Beginning with an overview of safety and security at the University, Darnell outlined crucial programs like the emergency notification process, residence hall security, the threat assessment team, the 4-RIDE van service and the “see something say something” policy that encourages community members to report incidents to police.

In response to a question about the perceived overreaction among students to a shooting that occurred in Georgetown Halloween night, Darnell said he felt students reacted in a “natural” way “because we weren’t getting enough information out as quickly as we would have liked to.”

GW was slammed with criticism for waiting to send an alert out to the community after the shooting and the arrest of two armed suspects near campus. No suspects have been linked to the shooting that left a 17-year-old boy dead pending an ongoing investigation.

The first campus notification was sent more than an hour after the initial shots in Georgetown and a Crime Alert hit inboxes shortly after 1:30 a.m. University administrators said a technological glitch prevented the message from sending properly that night.

In the days following the shooting, GW launched a new alert system to send text messages directly to students, staff and faculty if there is an ongoing threat to campus.

“I think we have a system that’s more reliable, we think it’s faster,” Darnell said.

Besides the text message alert system, Darnell pointed out other methods of campus contact with the community, including desktop notifications, campus advisories and social networking.

He highlighted the use of Twitter as a means of disseminating information faster, adding that the University “can’t react sometimes as quickly as you can react on Twitter.”

“It’s usually a one-on-one transaction when you all are on Twitter. We’re trying to put out information to 25,000 people and with that comes a responsibility to not only put that information out in a timely manner but also make sure that that information is as accurate as it possibly can be,” he said.

Darnell was joined onstage by University Police Department Chief Kevin Hay, Director of the Office of Emergency Management George Nuñez, Director of the Office of Health and Safety William Flint and Dean of Students Peter Konwerski.

Hay touched on efforts to curb piggybacking at building entrances and the possibility of upgrading several blue lights on campus.

Throughout the forum, the group continually stressed the importance of community involvement in keeping the University safe.

“I have never been a part of any safety and security endeavor that’s been successful if the community wasn’t a part of that as well,” Darnell said. “And that’s really what tonight is about, is to solicit your feedback, to make you a part of this, to get your ideas, to get your suggestions because at the end of the day we’re only as safe and secure as all of us are being a part of this effort.”

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Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011 1:52 p.m.

Safety Expo draws community to University Yard

University Police Department Captain Michael Glaubach performs a safety demonstration with Officer Nino Zambito during the annual Safety Expo held on University Yard Wednesday afternoon. Alex Weihmann | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Brianna Gurciullo.

The Office of Emergency Management’s sixth annual Safety Expo drew more than 1,500 people to University Yard Wednesday.

Held during National Preparedness Month, the event offered attendees an opportunity to create emergency preparedness kits that included band aids, latex gloves, hand sanitizing wipes, insect repellent and sunscreen.

The University Police Department, the Office of Health and Safety, GW Hospital, the Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Education, the American Red Cross, D.C. Fire and EMS and EMeRG all gathered at the event. It joined about 29 Office of Emergency Management partners in total, the largest turnout in the event’s history, George Nuñez, the office’s director, said.

The Washington Animal Rescue League brought cats and dogs –up for adoption – and distributed pamphlets on pet care during emergency conditions.

Large groups gravitated toward UPD’s self-defense demonstration area.

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Hatchet File Photo

The annual World Bank-International Monetary Fund meetings from Sept. 23 to Sept. 25 might cause some disturbances near the perimeters of the Foggy Bottom Campus, but are not expected to greatly affect GW.

Sidewalks and parking near the World Bank and IMF buildings will likely be restricted, according to an infomail. Students should expect road closures and detours starting Friday morning, but “pedestrian access to all University facilities will be maintained throughout the weekend.”

This year’s infomail released an advisory similar to last year’s notice. Office of Emergency Management representatives attended planning meetings for the event, University Police Chief Kevin Hay said.

After consulting with the officials, Hay said UPD determined it will keep patrols at its normal levels during the meetings.

The annual meetings have historically drawn protests that in some years have taken a violent turn, with activists throwing bricks at storefronts and bystanders in 2007. The following year, protests were markedly quieter.

Students should remember to carry their GWorld and obey local police officers and signs, the infomail said.

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Hurricane Irene bears down on the Florida coast Friday. Credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project

The Marvin Center will act as an emergency shelter if Hurricane Irene critically damages residence halls.

The University will also lock down all rooftop terraces and balconies, Senior Associate Vice President for Safety and Security Darrell Darnell said, and is inspecting back-up generators across both campuses to ensure they are fueled and running properly.

The National Weather Service issued a flood watch warning for the D.C. area. Nearby Arlington, Va. declared a state of local emergency at about 3:45 p.m.

GW’s Office of Emergency Management is monitoring the storm’s trajectory along with a representative from the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, he said. University Police Department officers are also on guard, along with staffers from the Office of Safety and Security.

Darnell added that his office met with the Georgetown waterfront’s management to verify that the area’s flood wall was raised to prepare for heavy rains. In April, the Potomac River flooded the waterfront, damaging lines that feed power to Ross Hall.

Generators will power fire alarms, emergency lights and one elevator per building throughout the storm, according to a campus advisory issued Friday morning. The alert also warned students to stay away from windows and take cover under sturdy objects in the event of dangerously high winds.

On-campus dining venues will remain open according to their normal hours, Nancy Haaga, director of GW’s Campus Support Services, said. The new Metro Diner and The Coffee Stop at J Street are open from noon to midnight on weekends.

“We are stocked with food and are prepared to feed students in the event that we lose electrical power at either campus,” she said.

GW canceled all outdoor events slated for Sunday and offered today as an early move-in day for students, bracing for Irene’s strike.

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