University updating disaster plans

By LEVI WORTS/Montana State News

Montana State University is updating plans for dealing with disaster.

The plan was last updated in 2007, when it listed the top six hazards that may affect MSU as terrorism, hazardous materials, earthquakes, structural fires and severe weather.

When asked if the new plan would focus more on a shooter on campus, Glen Puffer, assistant dean of students, said that “is in fact one of the least likely things to happen.”  However, he said that the campus police train regularly at MSU facilities in case the situation occurs.

Instead, Puffer stressed the committee’s role is to reduce “the chance of events happening” by “hardening structures to reinforce infrastructure.”

The greatest threats to MSU, its students and the surrounding community has actually been identified as chemical spills and fires that may threaten vital research and buildings.

FEMA, which provided a $25,000 grant for the work, recognizes “the major role universities play in both the structure and stability of the local economy,” and a hazard “would have a dramatic effect on the surrounding community.”

The goal of the new Pre-Disaster Mitigation Advisory Committee is to identify and update current threats towards MSU’s campus and students.  The committee, which had its first meeting last week, will be assessing and revising the plan over the next year and a half.

Several professional consultants will be part of the advisory committee spearheading the project.  Puffer led the first of many meetings with the consultants.

In all, the committee will include 20 to 25 individuals who are connected with MSU as well as emergency responders.  This collaboration, according to FEMA, will be able to effectively and clearly identify of hazards without “unacceptable losses.”

– Edited by Michele McDonald

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