Who We Are
The University of Maryland Office of Emergency Management's (OEM) mission is to prepare the UMD community in the event of an emergency or incident, mitigate measures to reduce loss of life and property, and respond to and recover from emergencies or incidents. OEM supports the university in developing emergency and continuity plans; coordinating and providing training; developing, implementing and evaluating exercises; and conducting community outreach.
Emergency management at the University of Maryland is a broad program that involves the entire campus community, as well as external agencies and organizations. OEM works closely in partnership with the University of Maryland Police Department (UMPD). The Emergency Management Council (EMC), lead and coordinated by OEM, is an important component of the program. The EMC is comprised of leaders from across university divisions that represent mission critical functions. The EMC meets regularly to engage in emergency planning and information sharing.
The Office of Emergency Management is a part of the Department of Environmental Safety, Sustainability and Risk (ESSR). The ESSR Annual Report provides OEM and ESSR highlights during this past year.
- Maintain university essential functions during or after an emergency or incident and support the Incident Response Team (IRT)
- Equip the UMD community with the skills and resources needed to effectively respond and make critical decisions in an emergency or incident
- Promote a culture of resiliency through emergency preparedness, self-sufficiency, shared responsibility and development of strong structure across divisions.
Why We Are Here
The University of Maryland (UMD) is no stranger to disaster resilience. The Great Fire of 1912 destroyed most of what was then the Maryland Agricultural College (MAC). Only Morrill Hall still stands today. “The Great Fire of 1912 could have ended UMD, instead, it sparked rebirth.” Wrote Lauren Brown in 100 Years Later: The Blaze that Built Maryland, published in the Fall 2012 edition of TERP. She goes on:
“The inexplicable catastrophe might easily have shuttered the little college on the hill. Instead, MAC emerged from the ashes of the Great Fire to reshape its mission, ownership, physical appearance and orientation, and enrollment – its entire identity. It rallied determined students, faculty, alumni, and state leaders to lay the groundworks for a far more ambitious institution, on that became the University of Maryland."
“The Great Fire of 1912 could have ended UMD, instead, it sparked rebirth.”
As time went on, UMD faced more challenges such as the civil disturbances of the 1960’s and 1970’s, large fires in the Stamp Student Union and Mitchell Building, snowstorms, and the “deep freeze” that closed the campus for a week in the winter of 1994 among others.
Heat emergencies in Byrd Stadium in the early 1990’s – before shade was available under the Upper Deck – caused many people to experience heat related injuries. This resulted in the first emergency management plans that coordinated UMD departments and outside agencies, such as the fire department, and led to all-hazards plans for all large public assembly facilities.
The tornado that hit the campus in 2001, killing two students and seriously injuring a staff member, was motivation for campus wide all-hazards planning. Shortly after the tornado, UMD became a NOAA “Storm Ready” campus.
The Virginia Tech shooting tragedy in 2007 was motivation for campuses across the country to examine their emergency preparedness. UMD was preparing to purchase an alerting system prior to the Virginia Tech incident. The purchase was accelerated and the system, to be known as UMD Alerts, was quickly placed in service. Development of the UMD Emergency Operations Plan was initiated and after completion was soon followed by the Department Operations Plans.
To enhance the preparedness and response of the university, the Incident Response Team (IRT) was formed by the Vice President for Student Affairs to bring together senior-level administrators for a coordinated institutional response. Additionally, the university increased its participation in exercises, which ranged from active shooter, explosion, and laboratory incidents, to severe storms and stadium emergency scenarios. The first Emergency Operation Center (EOC) activation was during Hurricane Isabel where several key university departments and local agencies were able to coordinate resources in real- time.
The skills and dedication of individual departments has always made it possible for UMD to manage disasters as they occur. However, a systematic, coordinated approach to planning is necessary for the 5 mission areas of emergency management – prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. Consequently, the Emergency Management program was created in 2013. This program continues to develop and grow today and support the mission of the university.