Successful Power Outage Simulation
Niagara University held a successful disaster simulation on Tuesday, Nov. 16. A disaster simulation is an exercise program where the staff of NU, in concurrence with local first responders, reacts to an incident on campus in case of a real emergency.
Why is it important to conduct an emergency simulation? According to Tom Burns, the assistant vice president of public relations and marketing, It gives us a real-life scenario to test our emergency planning. It is not just our group in a room talking about possible situations. It is a feet-on-the-ground training that we can then evaluate to see what areas may need to be adjusted in our plan.
The purpose of this year's disaster simulation was how to react in case of a power outage.
The simulation began with closing the roads on campus as well as the Kiernan Center from 9 a.m. to noon. The simulation started off like a typical day at NU: students in class, dorms; staff teaching, in their offices, etc. Then the Power Authority called about a power line down, a possible emergency.
The power outage started off at O'Shea, however, the power line was not the direct cause of the power outage (it was later determined it was failure of the heating system).
Around 50 students participated and evacuated the building after they were informed of the emergency. The volunteer students were transferred to the Kiernan Center for shelter. There they received cots and toiletries. A few students claimed the power outage made them nauseous “ was it caused by possible fumes? The sick students were evaluated and treated by medical personnel.
The simulation was dual-sponsored this year by Niagara University and the New York Power Authority. Other active participants included NU emergency management personnel, Upper Mountain
Fire Co., the Lewiston Police Deptartment, Niagara County Sheriff's Deptartment and local EMTs. Niagara University, in conjunction with NYPA, was observed and evaluated on the basis of preparation for an emergency. Preparation included the time to evacuate the students and staff in O'Shea and how long it took to transfer all to the Kiernan Center and provide shelter to the participants.
The simulation ended with a debriefing around 12:30 p.m. According to Burns, the day was said to have been very successful by authorities.
Three years ago, NU held a similar simulation, but it was not a power outage. The emergency was a chemical toxin released in DePaul Hall “ the science building. Again, area respondents, NU staff and students participated to ensure success at the trial run. A student, ( i.e. a dummy) was pronounced dead at the scene and several more were injured. Like the power outage simulation, the chemical spill was successful and a good preparation in case of an actual emergency.