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Oxford campus drill tests emergency preparedness

Student and staff volunteers, first responders, and members of Emory's Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response (CEPAR) recently staged the first-ever full-scale emergency preparedness drill on the campus of Emory's Oxford College.

The scenario for the March 21 drill was a fire in a residence hall, with response from local firefighters, EMTs and Emory police, in addition to Newton County, City of Oxford and DeKalb Country emergency responders and Piedmont Newton Hospital. Even makeup artists were on hand to lend realism to the event.

Sam Shartar, senior administrator of CEPAR, directed the operation.

"The purpose of doing these drills is to find gaps in the planning process," says Shartar. "We wanted to test a fixed set of objectives and capabilities so that we could see how our public safety personnel interfaced with Newton County's and City of Oxford's. This was their first full-scale exercise, and they did well."

After the drill, participants evaluated what worked and what needed improvement.  

"There were a few opportunities for improvement, including communication among different agencies, but it proved that people understand what they need to do to best support their community," said Shartar. "Emory has an engaged community, and people take this seriously, because the better prepared we are, the more resilient we can be in the event of a real disaster."

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