Staying prepared – How would UMHS respond to an emergency like Hurricane Sandy?

The recent devastation from Hurricane Sandy and subsequent hospital and biomedical laboratory closures in New York and New Jersey have once again brought to light the U-M Health System’s responsibility to remain prepared for unexpected emergencies – both weather-related and otherwise.

If it happened here, would you know what to do?

Severe weather and other natural catastrophes can happen anywhere and without much warning. Every time there is a disaster – either weather-related or from other causes – you should ask yourself if you are prepared.

You can take some simple steps now to prepare so you can protect yourself and assist patients, visitors and colleagues if an emergency occurs.

  • Sign up for U-M Emergency Alert so you will be made aware of major emergencies affecting the U-M campus. Visit to learn how. This is one of the most important things our campus community can do from an individual standpoint.
  • Take some time to get to know your building, clinic, lab or hospital unit’s emergency plan and exercise the plan. Check with your supervisor if you’re not sure where to find your emergency plan.
  • If you are part of the Hospitals and Health Centers, understand your role in the UMHHC Emergency Operations Plan, including what to do with patients and visitors during emergencies. To see the plan and look at what to do in specific types of emergencies, visit
  • Pay attention to global email messages, UMHS internal homepage items and loudspeaker announcements that will be used to share emergency information.
  • Be ready to spread the word verbally to those in your area who may not have received the message and tell them what to do.
  • “As an institution, we are well prepared for a range of emergency situations,” says Bruce Cadwallender, director, Safety and Emergency Management. “We have prepared and trained for many of them, including major natural disasters, and we are confident that we will respond effectively.”

    Part of this preparation includes UMHHC’s partnership with many groups within the state, including the Region 2 South Health Care Coalition, the Washtenaw County Health Emergency Response Coalition, and the Michigan Department of Public Health and its Pandemic Ethics Committee. We are also involved in the National Disaster Medical System.

    Our Emergency Operations Center, where emergencies are managed, was upgraded in 2003 to include several rows of computer workstations, each with a telephone; base station and hand-held satellite phones; a UHF radio providing statewide service connecting us with hospitals and emergency management agencies; other radio systems; and the ability to monitor our security cameras. We have an alternate center in another location, as a backup, as well.

    Just last month, the U-M Health System conducted a region-wide disaster exercise involving multiple departments and procedures at both UMHS and U-M, as well as 34 other hospitals in Washtenaw, Wayne and Monroe counties.

    Several tabletop exercises will also be conducted this winter at the Medical School to further enhance emergency preparedness.

    For additional steps we have taken to increase our preparedness, read

    We all hope our community will never be faced with a catastrophe, but we must be ready for the worst-case scenarios.

    For questions, contact Carrie Wright:

    Visit for more information.