May 17, 2010
As part of UNC Asheville's efforts to enhance campus safety, the university will be joined by a number of community agencies for a live emergency response training exercise on campus on Friday, May 21.
The training exercise will be conducted by EnviroSafe Consulting and Investigations Inc., a firm hired by University of North Carolina General Administration to conduct training and simulations at each of the 17 UNC system campuses. Preparations for the UNC Asheville exercise began over a year ago, and a tabletop exercise with community emergency response agencies was held in January.
This full-scale, multi-agency training exercise will use an active shooter scenario in order to test and refine UNC Asheville's current emergency communications system and multi-agency tactical responses during a crisis situation.
Agencies joining UNC Asheville in the training exercise include Asheville Police Department, Asheville Fire Department, Mission Hospitals, Buncombe County Sheriff's Department, Buncombe County Emergency Management, the Woodfin Police Department, the U.S. Forest Service, the N.C. State Highway Patrol, and the American Red Cross. Some 20 UNC Asheville students and staff have volunteered to serve as "victims" and will be transported to Mission Hospitals during the exercise.
The exercise will begin at 9 a.m. and end by 2 p.m., followed by a debriefing for participants. The only building that will be affected by the training exercise is the Zeis Science and Multimedia Arts Building.
Those nearby campus may hear a warning siren at the start of the exercise and simulated gunfire, as well as an all-clear siren that will sound at the end of the exercise. During the exercise, some streets on campus may be blocked, including University Heights, and Asheville City Transit buses will be re-routed around campus.
The City of Asheville is assisting UNC Asheville with advance notification of the training exercise through the city's emergency notification service CodeRED. The CodeRED system delivers customized pre-recorded telephone messages to targeted geographic areas. The city plans to send a pre-recorded message about the exercise at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 20, said Dawa Hitch, City of Asheville public information officer.
UNC Asheville implemented a system for text and voicemail alerts for students, faculty and staff in April 2009 and an outdoor emergency siren system in March 2010. The audible warning system would only be used if there is an active threat to the safety of the campus, such as a tornado, explosion, nearby hazardous materials spill or an active shooter. The audible alerts can be heard in outdoor areas on campus and in neighborhoods immediately surrounding the campus.
Merianne Miller, UNC Asheville, 828.251.6676 (office), 828.545.6447 (mobile)
Dawa Hitch, City of Asheville, 828.259.5981 (office)
Merrell Gregory, Mission Hospital, 828.213.4806 (office)