George Mason to Develop Emergency Shelter Operation Plan for Virginia

Posted: October 12, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Lori Jennings

Virginia Gov. Mark Warner has requested George Mason’s assistance in developing the first-ever Virginia Plan for Evacuation Event Response. The plan is expected to be completed later this fall, allowing the Commonwealth of Virginia to be the first state in the nation to develop a written plan documenting lessons learned about state-level emergency sheltering response activities necessitated by recent natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina.

George Mason’s College of Health and Human Services’ (CHHS) Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics (CHPRE) will be leading the charge for the university. The plan will include operations guidance and standard operating procedures (SOPs), as well as forms necessary for rapid mobilization and the management of emergency shelter openings and closings.

The plan will complement Warner’s existing plan for commonwealth disaster and emergency response and will integrate side-by-side support practices from government agencies such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the American Red Cross and faith-based community organizations.

“I am pleased and honored that the governor of Virginia has recognized our college’s expertise in disaster and emergency response and is engaging us to develop this comprehensive response plan,” says Shirley Travis, CHHS dean. “Our work on this plan is a great responsibility and presents a tremendous opportunity to serve the government and citizens of Virginia.”

Peggy Jo Maddox, deputy director of CHPRE, is spearheading the George Mason Disaster Recovery Response Plan team. Maddox and her team were originally approached by Virginia Secretary Jane Woods to help document a site being established in Fort Pickett, Va., to support evacuee outplacement from Hurricane Katrina-ravaged Gulf states. Subsequently, the governor requested the support and assistance from the university in developing the commonwealth’s response plan.

The Emergency Sheltering Operations Plan is being directed by Woods, who served as incident commander for the Fort Pickett operation. George Mason’s team will build upon the governor’s initial emergency plan and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) incident command functions and develop a framework for developing and managing short- and long-term plans for designated emergency sheltering operations. As such, CHPRE will provide assistance to the commonwealth for the following:

  • Information analysis and coordination

  • Immediate and long-term planning

  • Compilation and documentation of After Action Reports, designed to improve response time for operations readiness

  • Collaboration with functional area chiefs to document SOPs for logistics, administration, finance and operations (inclusive of reception, evacuee, security, medical health and transition services)

  • Establishment of a documentation system for meetings, briefings and conferences

  • Assistance to VDEM in developing a data collection system to capture resource expenditures for planning activities that may be reimbursed by FEMA, as well as public assistance program rules for emergency sheltering operations. The system will also document the cost of disaster recovery planning and mobilization.

Besides Maddox, the George Mason team includes Kae Livsey, MPH, RN, research associate with CHPRE; and Elizabeth Chester, a graduate student in CHHS who will assist in the planning effort through a service learning course.

“For students and faculty alike, this a great opportunity to serve the citizens of Virginia and those left in crisis when a disaster strikes. Students are learning firsthand how to roll up their sleeves and be a part of the solution,” says Maddox.

For more information on CHHS, visit the web site.

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