Dr. Spinrad asked me to share information about disaster planning and response for researchers.  Professionally, I’ve created and published disaster planning guidelines and articles related to animal facilities.

Poster for the movie The Blob - Indescribable, Indestructible, Nothing can stop it! plus list of actors.The focus of this post is steps to take to be prepared for “events” that create potential risk to people, so they can escape safely! With advanced planning, important research tools, equipment, or endeavors are minimally impacted. Advanced planning ensures important data aren’t lost and that we are able to get back to our important research as soon as possible.

The University has information available for general safety needs during an emergency. Regardless of the specifics for your area, disasters have some common elements that can be addressed with advanced planning. This includes taking inventory of sensitive equipment and irreplaceable samples, and having procedures in place to ensure safety for personnel. Knowing in advance how irreplaceable samples or research equipment will be protected will reduce stress during an event. Each individual research laboratory or office is responsible for organizing this information, as it relates to its own area. This will allow staff to be able to practice and fully respond to whatever needs are created from an event or evacuation.


You can get assistance in organizing preparedness efforts from the campus emergency coordinator, Mathew Rodgers ( ; 541-230-4621) .  He will provide guidance and examples, to help clarify what will be best for your area. If your unit hasn’t already identified your needs to Matt, they may be overlooked and unnecessarily endangered during an event.

Image of San Andreas Fault

The most likely “event” to occur will be an alarm sounding, which necessitates evacuation. Most of us are familiar with this sound; yet, this might not be clear to everyone, especially individuals from other countries. This underlines the need for all staff to be part of discussion on procedures for your specific area. The challenges of evacuating safely are compounded when you are responsible for guests and/or need to protect data, equipment, and other valuable research tools.

Please don’t assume that everything is covered and “someone” knows what to do. “Someone” may well be you!

Is your unit fully prepared? Please contact Matt if you haven’t already done so!

As my Dad always said, “If you don’t plan, you plan to fail.”

– Stephen Durkee
Office of Research Integrity
Join the conversation. Your comments about this posting are welcome.

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2 thoughts on “!ALARM! Disaster Response Preparedness for Researchers

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