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Communications During an Emergency at SLAC

Safety pervades every task at SLAC. From heavy lifting to electrical work, we all know how to go about our day-to-day tasks safely. But in an emergency, do you know what to expect of SLAC and what SLAC expects of you? Please see the ES&H emergency webpage for general information. The Emergency Public Information Office (EPIO) wants you to be prepared for any unexpected crisis.

"We want the SLAC family to feel safe knowing we have an emergency communication plan in place in addition to the other emergency preparedness measures," said EPIO Chair Lee Lyon. "But for the plans to be successful, everyone at SLAC also has to do his or her part as well."

Whether the event is unique to SLAC, such as an on-site chemical spill, or general to the region, like an earthquake, there are basic steps to follow in any emergency.

At the first notice of a site-wide crisis, everyone on site is asked to immediately report to a designated assembly point. Assembly points are assigned to all users and employees based on where they work; if you do not know your specific assembly point, please check with your building manager to find your specific location. Once at your assembly point, check in to let others know you are safe.

"Sweepers will work their way through all of SLAC's buildings to make sure everybody's out," said EPIO member Doug Kreitz. "If we're looking for you [when you have already safely left the site without telling anyone], we're not focusing on those who really do need help."

If the emergency were due to an earthquake, no one can reenter a building until structural engineers have evaluated its safety. This means you should take personal possessions like purses and car keys with you if time permits during evacuation. Buildings will be color coded and will have signs indicating their condition and entry/no entry status.

Kreitz also asks that all employees obtain parking stickers for their vehicle from the Safeguards & Security office in Building 207. This, he says, is useful because it allows emergency workers to determine who may still be on site. If your car is at SLAC but you cannot be located, sweeper teams will look for you.

In addition to searching for missing persons, SLAC will also offer everyone on site as much information about the emergency as possible. The EPIO has established one key information point at SLAC—the "SLAC Green" near the cafeteria/auditorium—where, after checking in at their assembly points, employees are encouraged to gather to learn more about the emergency. Lyon warns that the information during the first few hours will probably be incomplete and sporadic but it will be updated as frequently as possible.

The message on the SLAC emergency phone line—1-877-447-SLAC (7522)—will be regularly updated in an emergency. Lyon also suggests that employees get into their cars and listen to the radio (if the radio is functioning) for updates on any emergency situation affecting the Bay Area. Additionally, the EPIO will post signs with brief information about road closures and conditions at both the Sand Hill and Alpine gates.

The EPIO knows that everyone's family will be their primary concern. People will be anxious to go home or make other contact with their family members, but the EPIO suggests that employees remain on site until more information is known about the extent of the emergency, especially the roads. "You will be safe on site," says Lyon. "We have food, water and shelter to last a couple of days. If two overpasses are down on either side of SLAC, you can't go anywhere. You'll just be stuck on the freeway without the food, water and shelter available at SLAC." Lyon also points out that SLAC will probably have the ability to perform medical triage and simple emergency treatments onsite.

Employees will be more comfortable waiting here at SLAC, says Kreitz, if they have a family emergency plan. Kreitz suggests having one out-of-state family member or friend that everyone in your immediate family calls in an emergency. "It's easier to call out of the area in an emergency," says Kreitz. "I have a brother in Texas. Everyone in my family knows to check in with Uncle Gary in an emergency." Kreitz also suggests that parents know their children's school emergency plan. "While you're waiting for information on whether it's safe to leave the site, which inevitably takes time, knowing where your family is will give you peace of mind."

However, SLAC recognizes that some staff will want to go home as soon as possible. If you do decide to leave the site, you are expected to notify your supervisor or another person in authority. Kreitz suggests that employees take advantage of the EPIO's information announcements and check the safety of the surrounding region before leaving the site.

Lyon says he would like all employees and users to remember three important steps to responding to an emergency at SLAC: (1) be accounted for, (2) know where to go for information, and (3) have a family plan. He also would like everyone to remember that SLAC is prepared to assist you in an emergency. "We've thought this through and have held emergency drills and simulations," he said. "We're prepared, and you can count on us to provide you with the best information available."

—Kelen Tuttle
   SLAC Today, May 1, 2006

Image: The Stanford University Library substained substantial damage in the 1906 earthquake. (Photo by S.D. Townsley, courtesy of the USGS Library.)