University of Southern California

USC Policy

University Organization, Authority and Core Documents

Date issued: December 21, 2012

Emergency and Disaster Preparedness

The university recognizes the need to prepare for unexpected events such as natural or human-caused disasters, as well as the need to return the university as quickly as possible to its normal operations should such events occur. This policy delineates the responsibilities to respond to emergencies at USC to ensure that critical functions are maintained or restored in a timely manner. All university community members should familiarize themselves with their department or school disaster plan, as well as the university emergency plan. Planning efforts to prepare for emergencies and disasters will be facilitated by the Office of Fire Safety and Emergency Planning, and overseen by the university's Crisis Management Team.

University Emergency Response

Central university service and administrative departments will maintain a constant state of readiness for any likely emergency situation, including both natural and human-caused disasters, following the standard all-hazards approach; sufficient university emergency services capabilities will be maintained by those departments to enable effective response to any situation, ensuring the safety and well-being of university students, faculty, staff, and visitors as the highest priority. Assisted by USC emergency planning staff, departments will maintain campus-wide response plans, conduct emergency response training, and participate in periodic campus-wide emergency exercises. Central emergency operations centers will be maintained on both the University Park and Health Sciences campuses to coordinate response to an emergency. Emergency response organization will be maintained in compliance with the national Incident Command System (ICS) standard. USC Emergency Planning staff will also assist university units in off-campus locations to maintain appropriate emergency plans and preparations.

University Emergency Authority/Protocol—Closure or Class Cancellation

Only the President or designated representative will communicate a declaration of emergency to deans and vice presidents. This will serve as the trigger to activate other disaster-related policies. Only the President or designated representative may temporarily close offices or cancel classes in an emergency situation. The President's cabinet will monitor the status of the university, assisted by emergency response and service departments, in order to identify and manage any emergency situation that may arise. The university will strive to maintain continuity of services and academic programs, and classes will be cancelled only if necessary due to extreme circumstances that require a temporary closure.

University Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity

The university-wide goal after a major emergency or disaster will be to restore teaching, research, patient care, and other mission-critical activities in a timely manner. All administrative and service units (see university emergency plan for listing) shall maintain continuity of services to facilitate the recovery of key services and continuity of the university mission following a major disruption or disaster. Assisted by emergency planning staff, all departments and academic schools will ensure that disaster recovery and business continuity plans are updated annually, exercised, and communicated on a regular basis. These plans should include contingencies to perform critical functions in the event of a loss of facilities, loss of technology, or staffing shortage, and they should identify recovery team members, responsibilities, and phone call trees.

Disaster Recovery of Data and Information Systems

The university protects vital data security, and maintains backup procedures and systems to protect against loss of vital data due to an adverse event or disaster. Information Technology Services (ITS) has disaster recovery plans and maintains off-site backup systems for recovery of core university-wide data and information systems. All systems operated locally by departments or schools shall also ensure that vital data is backed up and stored in a secure off-site location. Emergency planning staff will assist schools and departments in developing information backup plans as part of their disaster recovery and business continuity plans.

Hospital Disaster Preparation

USC-operated hospital facilities will maintain and exercise emergency plans as required by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). Hospitals will follow the required Hospital Incident Command System (HICS) protocol, and will coordinate with local medical emergency management systems/authorities. University departments will coordinate with USC hospital emergency planners to ensure mutual support and collaboration.

Responsible Office

Career and Protective Services

Issued by

Elizabeth Garrett, Provost and Senior Vice President, Academic Affairs
Todd R. Dickey, Senior Vice President, Administration
University of Southern California