Emergency Preparedness Plan

Emergency Preparedness Plan (EPP)

Personal health. Physical and intellectual property security. Environmental safety. Any or all of these could be at risk in the first few minutes to first few hours of an emergency—be it fire, flood, tornado, bomb scare, unknown intruder, widespread power outage, or other unexpected threat to wellbeing and safety in your area at MIT.

The time to plan for these potential emergencies is now, before they happen. This How To is designed to walk you through the basics and connect you with the resources you’ll need to create your new Emergency Preparedness Plan (EPP) as efficiently as possible. If you already have an EPP, you can use this How To to confirm when and how to update your existing plan.

Why does my department, lab, or center (DLC) need its own EPP?

MIT is passionate about protecting you, your coworkers, your physical space, and the work that goes on there. Your EPP will help the Institute ensure that DLC personnel, students, and visitors are safe and accounted for under a variety of emergency situations. Your plan also will give emergency response teams the information they need to deal appropriately with your equipment and materials during a crisis. These concerns apply to all DLCs, regardless of size.

Note that even if MIT does not own the building in which your DLC is located, you should still create an EPP for your area.

We have a fire emergency response plan/factsheet. Is this sufficient?

No. Fire emergency response is just one component of your overall EPP, which should incorporate responses related to all types of potential emergency situations including power outages, floods, and severe weather.

How are evacuation maps related to the emergency preparedness plans?

Evacuation maps are an important part of emergency preparedness. The standard EPP template developed by MIT’s Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) office includes a placeholder for buildings and locations covered under each plan. These locations have evacuation maps that typically are posted at elevators and emergency stairwells. Evacuation maps indicate primary and alternate exit routes along with interior and exterior assembly points. See “Who develops the EPP?” below for more information and a link to the EPP template.

How often does my DLC need to update its EPP?

At a minimum, you should review your EPP annually—even if it is just to confirm to EHS and MIT Emergency Management that you have assessed your EPP and determined that no changes are needed. In some cases, you may receive an update from the Department of Facilities notifying you of conditions outside your space, like construction or renovation work, that affect egress route or assembly area.

You also should update your EPP whenever there is a significant change to your personnel or your physical space. In terms of personnel, this may be a physical change that affects mobility or environmental awareness like pregnancy, surgery, or hearing or vision impairment. Within your space, a reconfiguration, addition of a satellite location, change of materials or equipment, or alteration to your egress route or assembly area would trigger the need for an updated EPP.

Who develops the EPP?

The Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for your DLC should work with EHS and Emergency Management staff and a lead administrator or financial officer within your DLC to complete the plan. The EPP template on the EHS website is the best place to start. You can create your EPP in Word or Excel, and EHS staff members are happy to work with you if you need help customizing your EPP.

What if my DLC is located among several buildings?

If your DLC is spread over more than one location, you do not have to create multiple EPPs. If your DLC determines that multiple EPPs would work best for your circumstances, however, EHS and Emergency Management are happy to work with you to help customize your EPPs to be as efficient and effective as possible for your staff and first responders.

Who should my department designate as the Emergency Preparedness Coordinator?

EHS encourages each DLC to select someone who has a central administrative role as the Emergency Preparedness Coordinator. Ideally, the coordinator is someone who is in the office on a regular basis and has a good working knowledge of how your entire DLC functions. EHS also recommends choosing a position that does not experience a high rate of turnover.

Note that if your Emergency Preparedness Coordinator changes, your EPP should be updated as soon as possible to ensure the lines of communication are clear for first responders in the event of an emergency.

What is expected of an Emergency Preparedness Coordinator versus a fire marshal during an emergency?

The fire marshal for your DLC has specific responsibilities for helping shepherd everyone in your area to the designated assembly area. Fire marshals also assist with communications triage in the event that anyone from your DLC is unaccounted for following an evacuation.

The Emergency Preparedness Coordinator works hand-in-hand with the fire marshal on these tasks but also is responsible for coordinating with your DLC’s management and operations decision-makers when your group is unable to return to your area in a timely fashion.

Your DLC may designate the roles of fire marshal and Emergency Preparedness Coordinator to the same individual provided that a different person is designated as the back-up Emergency Preparedness Coordinator. Your back-up person will fill the coordinator role when the primary coordinator is off site.

Why does the EPP template seem to be asking for more names and telephone numbers than in the past?

Enhanced communication is at the heart of the effort to create robust EPPs across the MIT community. Having only one or two emergency contacts for a DLC increases the chance for a breakdown in communication if those individuals can’t be reached immediately. That’s why the EPP template is designed to gather as many contact numbers as possible. Collecting this information also enables DLCs to communicate better internally in emergency situations. In addition to telephone contacts, the EPP template encourages the listing of relevant digital communication tools like department newsletters and social media.

EHS and Emergency Management understands the privacy concerns of individuals within the DLCs. Both EHS and Emergency Management staff members will work diligently with your coordinator to ensure that all personal contact information provided in your EPP will be secure and will only be accessed by authorized personnel in the event of an emergency.

Who should be trained on the emergency preparedness plan?  What about students?

Everyone within your DLC should be informed about the contents of your EPP. In particular, each person should be acquainted with which alarms signal an emergency in your area, what the evacuation route and procedures are, and where they are to assemble after evacuating the space. Your emergency coordinator may share that information or may partner with EHS to provide the necessary training. EHS also trains every new emergency coordinator.

Regarding students who may occupy your space on a temporary or seasonal basis—for weekend executive education, for example, or summer youth programs—your emergency coordinator should train anyone who comes into your space for ongoing, albeit part-time, activities.

Helpful links

  • Familiarize yourself with the MIT Emergency website
  • Download the EPP template or learn more about EPPs and Emergency Preparedness Coordinators
  • Review the Emergency Response Poster
  • Contact EHS for help with EPP creation and training or with questions about evacuation maps for your Department’s locations