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Emergency Preparedness

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015
UPDATED: August 17, 2023


It is the policy of Vanderbilt University to prepare for emergencies on an institutional and departmental level. Vanderbilt University Public Safety is responsible for developing, implementing, and maintaining an Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) for Vanderbilt University.  Departmental Leadership is responsible for developing a Departmental Emergency Operations Plan and training their employees to understand this plan at initial employment and following revisions to the plan.

It is the policy of Vanderbilt to maintain essential business services and operations during any emergency while providing for the protection of life, health, and safety for the Vanderbilt Community. Essential business services include maintaining the security of campus, support of students in a residence, operating research facilities, and providing necessary support and administrative services for these essential functions.

Reason for Policy 

To provide guidance to Departmental Leadership on preparing for emergencies that may affect their daily operations. Emergencies include but are not limited to natural disasters (tornado, ice storm), technological (loss of computers, network, or communication devices) or human related (active aggressor, outbreak of disease). It is essential that departments have a plan in place to prepare for such emergencies and give guidance to staff regarding their involvement in the plan.


Incident: An occurrence, either caused by humans or a natural phenomenon, which requires or may require action by public safety personnel to prevent or minimize loss of life or damage to property and/or the environment.

Vanderbilt Emergency Operations Plan:  The purpose of the Vanderbilt Emergency Operation Plan is to define the actions and roles necessary to provide a coordinated response to incidents within Vanderbilt University. This plan provides guidance to emergency preparedness personnel as well as other internal and external personnel within and near Vanderbilt University with a general concept of potential emergency assignments before, during, and following emergency situations.  More information can be found online by accessing the Emergency Management website:

Departmental Emergency Operations Plan: This plan provides guidance regarding the actions and roles necessary on a departmental level during incidents that suddenly and significantly impact the operations of the department. The Departmental EOP template can be obtained through the Office of Emergency Management. Contact information can be found at:

VU Emergency Operations Center: The VU Emergency Operations Center (EOC) may be activated during an incident involving the University campus. Emergency management personnel staff the EOC and are tasked with implementing emergency response and recovery activities in a safe and efficient manner. The EOC acts as an information hub for all University operations and it is the responsibility of the EOC to communicate with the University regarding the status of the incident until it is concluded.

Departmental Leadership:  Departmental Leadership is defined as senior level management overseeing Vanderbilt University departments and having the authority to enact the duties outlined in this Policy. Departmental Leadership is responsible for designation and oversight of the Departmental Emergency Coordinator and ensures proper implementation, maintenance, and training of the Departmental Emergency Operations Plan.

Departmental Emergency Coordinator: The Departmental Emergency Coordinator, in collaboration with the Office of Emergency Management, is a designated employee within their department responsible for the development, implementation, and maintenance of the Departmental Emergency Operations Plan. Each plan should include specific procedures outlining how the department will respond to, mitigate, and recover from emergencies. Departmental Emergency Coordinators also act as a point of contact between the Office of Emergency Management and departments on campus through the Emergency Management and Operational Continuity Working Group (EMOC).

Emergency Management and Operational Continuity Working Group (EMOC): This working group consists of personnel who are designated points of contact between their department and the Office of Emergency Management. These personnel may or may not be the Departmental Emergency Coordinator, though the DEC is a member of EMOC. EMOC’s mission is to increase departmental readiness through discussion and implementation of new applications, plans, and policies, as needed.


Plan Maintenance

    1. Vanderbilt University Public Safety is responsible for annual review of the Vanderbilt Emergency Operations Plan and providing updates to the Vanderbilt community when changes are made to the plan.
    2. Departmental Emergency Coordinators complete a Departmental Emergency Operations Plan using templates provided by the Office of Emergency Management and updating the plan on an annual basis. This plan and any updates are communicated to the department employees in a timely manner. The Departmental EOP template can be obtained through the Office of Emergency Management. Contact information can be found at:

Incident Response

    1. When an incident affects the Vanderbilt community, the Vanderbilt and Departmental Emergency Operations Plans will be put in effect until Executive Leadership declares normal business operations are in place.
    2. Each Department is responsible for determining its most critical functionality and the appropriate staffing levels for operational continuity during activations of the VU Emergency Operations Plan. During the course of an incident, Departmental Leadership may determine that operations need to be moved to another location, scaled back to include essential employees, or to terminate operations until the incident has concluded. Essential employees (employees considered to be critical to the operation of the University) are identified by departmental leadership and communicated to them in advance. 
    3. In the event of an incident on campus, employees are subject to the Hours of Work Policy, unless alternative work arrangements have been made in advance by the Department in accordance to Alternative Work Arrangements policy:
    4. If there is a life-threatening emergency, immediately seek medical attention at the Vanderbilt Emergency Department or contact 911.
    5. Employees with a work related illness or injury associated with the incident will continue to follow the Work Related Accident and Injury policy. During activation of the Emergency Operations Plan, employees should call the Occupational Health Clinic first to be directed to the appropriate location for treatment. Instructions for the appropriate actions to take regarding care, treatment, and returning to work are coordinated by Occupational Health. Employees complete a First Report of Injury via the Origami Incident Reporting System. More information can be obtained by accessing Occupational Health's website:

Incident Recovery

    1. Departmental Leadership and Departmental Emergency Coordinators, in collaboration with Vanderbilt University Public Safety and Executive Leadership, determines when normal business operations can safely resume. The Vanderbilt Community will be notified by their designated leadership to resume their normal working schedules.
    2. The Vanderbilt and Departmental Emergency Operations Plans will be reviewed and revised based on deficiencies noted during the incident response.






Departmental Emergency Operations Plan

Johnny Vanderpool or Caitlyn Perry

615-566-1119 or 615-497-4805


Issued:                         11/19/2020





Approval Authority:                 Vice Chancellor for Administration

Responsible Administrator:     Senior Associate Vice Chancellor of Public Safety

Responsible Office:                 Office of Emergency Management

Policy Contact:                                     Johnny Vanderpool, Director of Emergency Management


Disclaimer : The policies and procedures that guide employment practices are intended to assist in consistent administration and compliance.  Vanderbilt reserves the right to modify its policies and practices, in whole or in part, at any time.  Revisions to existing policies and procedures, and the development of new policies and procedures, will be made from time to time at the discretion of the University.   When new policies are implemented or existing policies are revised, the University will notify members of the University community as soon as practicable.  However, where differences occur, the most recent policy as reviewed and approved by the University will take precedence.  The policies and procedures do not create a contract, implied or expressed, with at will employees at Vanderbilt.


1 The Emergency Operations Center will respond to the need to develop employee labor pools and redeploy employees.