Please Note the Nearest Exit
by Nilan Lovelace | published Oct. 2nd, 2014
The zombie outbreak has finally made its way to RIT. With one touch, an unsuspecting human can be turned into a cunning, flesh-eating zombie. The zombies may only have three days to feed before dying off but with a campus full of students, a continuously growing freshman class and the intelligence to run the admissions office, they have the resources to survive for years. Soon, zombies will outnumber us all and they’ll be waiting for us at every corner.
We can’t live in constant fear of being turned, so what’s the safest out? Where will you and your loved ones go? Who will lead you out of harm’s way?
While none of this is very likely unless you’re playing a really intense game of Humans versus Zombies, it’s good to know how to evacuate in an emergency situation. There are people who are hired to help get you to safety during a crisis. Whether there’s an emergency on campus or elsewhere in Rochester, there are evacuation plans and protocols in place that are ready to be carried out at a moment’s notice.
Here at RIT, the Business Continuity department led by Director Lynn Daley is responsible for keeping the flow of business steady in the case of an emergency and getting everyone back on track when that fl ow is disrupted. The department covers plans to deal with specific disasters such as fire, armed threat and bomb threat. These are also plans to make sure students, staff and faculty are able to get away from danger and stay away while the disasters are being addressed. Business Continuity handles three categories of evacuation plans: the basic evacuation, the area evacuation and the full campus evacuation.
The basic evacuation is the most common evacuation experienced on campus. If you’ve lived in the dorms, chances are that you’ve experienced your fair share; basic evacuations, including building evacuations, are set into motion by fire alarms, carbon monoxide alarms and anything else that would cause manageable danger within a building. In this situation, the best exit is the closest and quickest. Once out, everyone gathers in a designated meeting area to make sure that everyone exited safely and is accounted for.
A larger scale evacuation is known as an area evacuation. If a horde of zombies invades the Infinity Quad, this is most likely the evacuation plan you will experience. Area evacuations are most likely to occur on the academic side of campus, where colleges face chemical dangers that may require blocking off an exposed area. They could also be carried out in response to bomb threats, armed persons or floods.
As you can imagine, the threat of an unstoppable zombie crusade and couldn’t be easily be controlled – which is why an area evacuation is perfect for the situation. Since an emergency that calls for an area evacuation may change more suddenly than a basic evacuation, area evacuations are more involved. Building marshals – people assigned to each building who are trained to direct evacuations – will work in accordance with Public Safety to direct crowds away from certain areas that can no longer be used.
“When an [area evacuation] is called, you may not be able to use a particular area,” Daley said. “So, you’re instructed to go a certain way or move a particular distance from a building … but if you have a situation like smoke from a chemical fire extending from one area to another, we will adjust how the area is cut off and try to predict which areas will be affected.”
The third and least likely evacuation is the full campus evacuation. There aren’t many situations that would call for a full campus evacuation, and a zombie apocalypse is one that hasn’t been considered too seriously.
However, one that has been taken into consideration is the breaking of the Mount Morris Dam, which would flood the Genesee River.
“It would take about an hour for the water to even get to the campus, but we’ve mapped out areas where the water would diverge,” Daley said. “It would mostly affect [University Commons and Riverknoll], but Public Safety and FMS, since we’re closing off the west side of campus, would use their vehicles to build a parameter and evacuate the area as soon as possible. And because it’s campus wide, the entrances and exits are closed off. We want to evacuate but also not let people in.”
With over an hour delay between the dam breaking and the waters reaching campus, a large amount of time is spent providing short-term shelter to the displaced and minimizing the dangers that moving large groups of people at once can present.
For both area and full campus evacuations, RIT’s alert system will be used to send electronic messages to all of those signed up via email, text and automated phone calls.
Rochester EvacuationsWhile the City of Rochester also has a Department for Business Continuity with similar plans, it has a larger scale office in charge of a range of emergency plans – the Office of Emergency Management (OEM). This office oversees planning for radiological emergency procedures, block evacuations and sheltering.
Since the City of Rochester has a much larger population than RIT, emergency and evacuation plans are less concrete and more adaptive in nature. There are more streets, buildings, residences and traffic issues to take into consideration that cannot be fully accounted for before a zombie outbreak or other emergency occurs.
According to Emergency Manager Frederick Rion Jr., OEM works alongside multiple departments and organizations, such as local law enforcement, the Red Cross, RTS, Health and Human Services and more in order to create adaptive and predictive emergency plans.
OEM has evacuation plans for radiological emergency procedures in the case of highly unlikely radiological leaks and exposure from the power plant. If the zombies find an alternative food source and decide to start a nuclear cleanse of all the humans in Rochester, the first step OEM would take is to call for a 10-block evacuation. OEM has evacuation plans for radiological emergency procedures in the case of highly unlikely radiological leaks and exposure from the power plant. If the zombies find an alternative food source and decide to start a nuclear cleanse of all the humans in Rochester, the first step OEM would take is to call for a 10-block evacuation.
To predict any foreseeable issues with emergency plans, some departments undergo tabletop evacuation drills to hone strategies and routes best suited for different situations. While schools and universities are not mandated to consult with OEM to prepare for emergencies, OEM is open to coordinate and review the plans and procedures other organizations have set in place.
So, if a zombie outbreak claims the city – or if you’re in any other emergency for that matter – you can rest easy knowing that there are evacuation plans in place to make sure you stay human and safe for as long as possible. If anything, remember that the quickest way to evacuate is the fi rst available and safest exit you can find.