PA Emergency Plans Examined

The worst flooding in the Andover area since 1938 followed closely on the heels of last week’s intestinal virus. Although students joked about building an ark to survive the rising waters, most would be relieved to know that the administration is prepared at all times for many emergency situations. Phillips Academy’s Disaster Response and Recovery Plan (DRRP) details specific responses to possible disasters. Originally published in 2003, the DRRP was updated this year. In the event of an emergency, Head of School Barbara Chase acts as Incident Commander. She assembles a team of about nine people to plan a response and contacts outside respondents, depending on the severity of the situation. Thomas Conlon, Manager of Public Safety, said, “There is a gradual ladder of people who get involved in certain situations.” The Academy’s core Disaster Response Team includes Temba Maqubela, Dean of Faculty; Margarita Curtis, Dean of Studies; Jane Fried, Acting Associate Head of School; Marlys Edwards, Dean of Students and Residential Life; Linda Griffith, Dean of Community and Multicultural Development (CAMD); Michael Strysick, Director of Communications; and Elizabeth Roberts, Secretary of the Academy. An associated group composed of Mr. Conlon, Michael Williams, Director of Facilities, and Deborah Martin, Director of Human Resources and Risk Management entitled “ex-officio” helps direct the initial response. If an emergency demanded more people, two other groups could join the effort: the Incident Responders, consisting of various staff and faculty members, and the Additional Resources group, primarily compromised of PA nurses. Planned responses were created according to recommendations by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Andover Police Department. At any given time, the Academy has a seven-day supply of food and water available on campus. Scott Flanagan, Director of Food Service, is working on a plan that would allow the school to obtain almost a month’s supply of food on short notice. The school’s heated garage can be used for food and water storage. The Academy purchased 4,000 N95 respiratory precaution masks and 8,000 pairs of gloves, which are kept locked until a need for them arises. Borden Gym, the Cage, and Gelb Science Center were selected as potential treatment locations for quarantine, triage, or both. Gelb’s third-floor HVAC system would circulate clean air in the event of a pandemic outbreak. Dorms that are prone to flooding are equipped with pumps, which will activate when the water reaches a certain level. The worst flooding occurs in areas with the lowest elevation and the highest water table. Administrators recently practiced emergency responses in specific hypothetical situations including a sniper on campus, a fire in an academic building during a blizzard, an abduction, and an outbreak of the Norwalk Virus. Responses to different situations require various degrees of complexity. For example, a swat team from the Andover Police Department would direct the response team if there was a sniper. In the case of a pandemic outbreak, the Centers of Disease Control Prevention and state and town health departments would help orchestrate a school-wide response. The Academy re-enacted their response to the Norwalk Virus when an intestinal virus infiltrated the community last week. Isham Health Center notified the State Health Department, and town health officials inspected Commons. The Disaster Response Team proved that the protocol they devised and practiced would be effective in a severe pandemic outbreak. The Emergency Attendance that Cluster Deans take at All-School Meetings is an essential component of disaster protocol because the Academy would need to locate students as quickly as possible in many emergency situations.