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UC San Diego Emergency Operations Plan

Learn about the UC San Diego Emergency Operations Plan.

UC San Diego's campus Emergency Operations Plan provides the framework for an organized and trained response to various human-caused and natural emergency situations including fires, hazardous spills, earthquakes, flooding, explosion, and civil disorders.

For more information, contact Dismas Abelman, Manager, Emergency Services, (858) 534-5451.

In the event of a major emergency affecting the campus, check UC San Diego status using one of the methods below:

• Call toll-free (888) 308-8273 [308-UCSD], Emergency Status Phone Number – A recorded message reporting the status of UC San Diego, advising on campus closure, interruption of classes, and work schedules will be heard.

• Consult the UC San Diego Blink Emergency Status Web site


The UC San Diego Emergency Operations Plan describes the campus community's plan to address various human-caused and natural emergency situations including fires, hazardous spills, earthquakes, flooding, explosion, and civil disorders.

The Plan has four phases:

  1. Mitigation phase – Evaluate hazards and risks and provide for the development of hazard mitigation and contingency plans.
  2. Preparedness phase – Identify actions that will increase emergency preparedness. This includes testing of alert systems, training of personnel, and public information efforts to raise awareness of emergency services programs.
  3. Response phase – Anticipate immediate response activities needed within the first few hours to deal with medical issues, containment of hazardous materials releases, assessment of building damage, etc.
  4. Recovery phase – Procedures to restore University functions to pre-event conditions and secure reimbursement grants to cover physical damage to the campus.

The purpose of the Plan is to provide information that will save lives during extraordinary emergency events and hasten the resumption of normal University operations during the recovery process. An effective organizational emergency response depends on an informed campus community whose members are familiar with campus procedures and understand their personal responsibility for emergency preparedness and response.

Three levels of emergency are recognized within the Plan.

Level 1 – Small scale, localized problem confined to a single space such as a laboratory, loading dock, etc. Easily contained utilizing existing campus resources. Describes types of problems (chemical spills, power outages, etc.) occurring during typical day-to-day operations. Does not involve evacuation of large numbers of personnel (if any). Major response procedures incorporated in the Plan typically would not be activated for a Level 1 event.

Level 2 – Larger in scope and size. A more serious event involving an entire floor or building. Affects many people. May involve large scale evacuation and include the need to access off-campus emergency response resources (fire department, etc.) to effectively control the situation. Major components of the Plan could be fully or partially activated, as required.

Level 3 – Campus-wide event causing widespread damage and injuries which overwhelm available resources and personnel (strong earthquake). Such emergencies pose a major threat to life and property and can impact the well-being of large numbers of people. Outside emergency response resources from both the government and private sector would be used in addition to full activation of all procedures contained within the Plan.


This Plan was designed with simplicity in mind. It is hoped that the basic structure can be easily incorporated by every member of the campus community and will provide a measure of confidence concerning quick and organized activation of limited resources during times of extraordinary events.

Implementation of the Emergency Operations Plan incorporates the following priorities into a course of action:

Save Lives
Required Actions – Manage building evacuations; fire suppression; hazardous materials release response; search and rescue; medical aid; communications; and utility stabilization.

Protect University Property
Required Actions – Perform building inspections; establish facilities security; shelter, food and water.

Restore Operations
Required Actions – Secure vital University records; safeguard research; reoccupy buildings or relocate space; obtain emergency recovery supplies through mutual aid agreements.

Meet Community Needs
Required Actions – Provide available space to external agencies (Red Cross, Governor's Office of Emergency Services, etc.); assist adjacent campus organizations (Salk Institute, Scripps Clinic, Scripps Hospital, V. A. Medical Center), as well as neighboring residents.

This document contains overall organizational and operational concepts, and summarizes the roles and responsibilities of departments and designated key personnel critical to the success of the program.

Additionally, departments play a key role through the development of site-specific Department Emergency Action Plans to ensure all personnel can:

  • Identify and use on-site emergency equipment (fire alarms, extinguishers, etc.)
  • React safely to specific emergencies (earthquakes, hazardous material spills, etc.)
  • Quickly evacuate buildings and move to designated assembly areas outside

Once developed, the department's Emergency Action Plan should be attached to this document and distributed to all personnel. Departments will be expected to activate their procedures as part of participating in periodic emergency response exercises.

Plan Overview

The organizational approach used in the Emergency Operations Plan is one of decentralization with the campus subdivided into small emergency response regions. Each region is provided necessary supplies and trained personnel to be self-sufficient immediately after an event. Emergency Response Teams in each region will assess damage and injuries and communicate their findings to the main Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Executive-level personnel will then make decisions necessary to direct the campus through its recovery process.

Emergency Operations Center (EOC)

The main Emergency Operations Center is located in the Campus Police Department (Campus Services Complex, Building B).

Alternate EOC: Should there be a need to relocate the EOC from the Campus Police Department Eucalyptus Point (next to Solis Hall and the Media Center on the Thurgood Marshall campus) will serve as the alternate EOC site.

The EOC will be staffed with managers from the following operational areas:

Academic Affairs

Housing, Dining, Hospitality

Campus Planning

Human Resources

Campus Police

Material Management

Environment, Health & Safety

Student Affairs

Facilities, Design & Construction


Facilities Management

UC San Diego Medical Group

Financial Services

University Communications

Hospital Representative

The EOC is the focal point for information management, decision making, and resource support and allocation during the entire recovery process. Communication links through the EOC will allow direct contact with the UC Office of the President, Governor's Office of Emergency Services, County and City Offices of Disaster Preparedness, and the news media.

Emergency Response Regions

The Plan divides the UC San Diego physical environment into emergency response regions. (View Map) Each region follows college boundaries or clusters of buildings where possible. Additionally, specific regional maps have been developed on which the following information is provided:

Designated Staging Areas – Large, open areas designated as common staging points are safe from buildings and other potential hazards.

Emergency Containers – Sites contain permanently stored medical supplies, hazardous spill cleanup materials, search and rescue equipment, etc., in 8' x 10' metal cargo containers. Keys reside with Campus Police and emergency response staff.

Designated Regional Response Staff

Various levels of emergency response staff will be involved in all regional recovery activities. The following key individuals will provide critical services necessary to the restoration of University operations.

Emergency Response Teams – Each region is assigned an Emergency Response Team consisting of staff members from Environment, Health & Safety (EH&S), Facilities Management (FM) and Facilities, Design & Construction (FD&C).

Campus Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) – These Student, Staff and Faculty volunteers are distributed throughout the campus. During a crisis, trained CERT members can provide immediate assistance to victims, organize volunteers at a disaster site, and give critical support to first responders.

The primary objective of each team is to assess damage and injuries sustained within the region. EH&S will focus on released hazardous materials; FM will work to restore broken utility service; and FD&C will evaluate structural building damage. CERT team members may be involved in light search and rescue, perimeter control, basic fire suppression, triage and first aid activities, as well as incident command activities.

Department Safety Coordinator – A designated departmental person responsible for liaison activities with UC San Diego Emergency Management and Mission Continuity on all emergency planning matters, including the development of Departmental Emergency Action and UC Ready Continuity Plans. Coordinators are responsible for ensuring all department personnel are alerted and evacuate quickly to their designated assembly area outside when the building alarm system is activated. Coordinators are also responsible for identifying individuals who will require special assistance during emergency activities and ensuring specific arrangements are in place to meet their needs.

Activation of Plan

Under authority of the California Emergency Services Act, a "state of emergency" must be formally declared by the Chancellor or their designee whenever there is a threatened or actual condition of disaster or extreme peril which cannot be managed by ordinary campus procedures.

The Plan is activated upon such a declaration in the following sequence:

  1. If the emergency occurs during normal business hours, all designated management personnel will report to the Emergency Operations Center as soon as possible. Concurrently, key members of the various Emergency Response Teams will also report to their designated areas.

a. If the event occurs after normal business hours, key EOC and Emergency Response personnel will be called back to the campus. A contact list of key personnel is maintained at the Campus Police dispatcher's office.

b. If the event is so large as to unquestionably have a profound impact on the campus, all key personnel are instructed to return to campus as soon as possible without waiting for a callback.

  1. Emergency Response Teams will report to their assigned areas as soon as possible. Upon arriving at their region, damage assessment surveys of all buildings will be initiated. Team members will focus on utility line ruptures and structural building damage, as well as possible release of hazardous materials. Immediate assistance will be given to injured persons as necessary. Damage estimates will be communicated to the main EOC. Teams may remain in their assigned areas to help facilitate regional recovery efforts or be redirected to other areas of the campus requiring additional response attention.
  2. Department Safety Coordinators should clear all personnel out of structures as soon as possible. Evacuated personnel should move toward the designated assembly areas.
  3. All campus buildings will be quickly evaluated from the outside by responders to assess damage. Building entry will initially be made only by team members accompanied by structural engineers who are trained to assess damage from an engineering perspective. Each building will have a colored placard placed on each main door indicating its damage status. Three categories/colors of signs are used:
    • RED – Building is unsafe, closed indefinitely – DO NOT RE-ENTER
    • YELLOW – Limited entry only to designated personnel
    • GREEN – Safe to enter

Seriously damaged buildings or buildings contaminated with hazardous material spills will be posted with yellow hazard warning barrier tape and red building status signs by team members. Doors will be secured to prevent entry by unauthorized personnel. All other structures will be color coded appropriately after the initial inspection process.

Every building has been prioritized high or low risk. Ranking is a function of building age, occupancy, seismicity designation, containment of hazardous materials, and specific use (medical care facility, etc.). Buildings will be surveyed by team members on that priority basis.

Critical Functions/Responsible Units

University service departments will provide the following basic emergency functions:

A. COMMUNICATIONS – Reestablishment of equipment and support for telephone, radio, messenger reception and transmittal of information. Includes both internal and external linkages.
Responsible Units – Telecommunications, Campus Police dispatcher, University Communications.

B. DAMAGE ASSESSMENT - Examine all buildings and utility systems for structural damage. Report findings to the EOC. Post all structures with notice of findings and possible closure status.
Responsible Units – Emergency Response Teams, Facilities Management, FD&C, consulting structural engineers

C. EVACUATION – Relocation of personnel from dangerous buildings or areas throughout the campus.
Responsible Units – Campus Police, Transportation Services, Emergency Response Teams, Department Safety Coordinators

D. FOOD and SHELTER – Provide for the basic physical needs of evacuees and emergency response personnel during recovery activities.
Responsible Units – Housing & Dining Services, Faculty Club, Price Center contractors

E. FIRE SUPPRESSION – Containment, control, and light suppression of fires while awaiting arrival of SD Fire Department personnel. Securement of utility systems by Facilities Management.
Responsible Units – Emergency Response Teams

F. HAZARDOUS SPILLS – Provide technical expertise in the containment and cleanup of spilled chemical, radioactive, biological, asbestos-containing, or other regulated materials.
Responsible Units – EH&S, SDFD HAZMAT (if available), outside contractors

G. HEALTH SERVICES – Coordination of medical and psychological personnel and resources to address the needs of casualties and trauma victims.
Responsible Units – UC San Diego Medical Group, Student Health Services, Thornton Hospital

H. LAW ENFORCEMENT, SECURITY and TRAFFIC – Enforcement of laws and special orders to protect public safety, civil order, and University functions. Control campus access. Coordination with outside law enforcement agencies.
Responsible Units – Campus Police, Transportation Services

I. PERSONNEL and SPACE REASSIGNMENTS – Reallocation of student, faculty, and staff work space, study areas, and on-campus living quarters. Reassignment of existing personnel, employment of temporary personnel, or rental of temporary quarters to meet essential University needs.
Responsible Units – Registrar, Residential Life Services, Staff and Academic Personnel, Materiel Management, Student Affairs

J. PUBLIC INFORMATION – Provide a reliable source of information for the campus population and surrounding community. Issue bulletins and instruction notices to assist EOC operations. Prepare status reports for the media. All communications with the news media and the public will be solely through designated University spokespersons.
Responsible Units – University Communications

K. SEARCH and RESCUE – Identification and removal of missing or entrapped persons. Provision of critical life safety information for the EOC.
Responsible Units – Campus Police, Emergency Response Teams, SD Fire Department, Facilities Management personnel with vehicles and heavy equipment

L. SUPPLY and PROCUREMENT – Obtain, order, receive, store, distribute and maintain emergency response equipment required by the EOC and the Emergency Response Teams.
Responsible Units – Materiel Management

M. TRANSPORTATION – Coordinate the allocation of vehicles and related resources to move people, equipment, and essential supplies.
Responsible Units – Campus Police, Transportation Services, Facilities Management

N. UTILITIES – Coordinate the continued utilities operation (water, gas, electricity).
Responsible Units – Facilities Management

O. DOCUMENTATION OF RECOVERY OPERATIONS – Coordinate preparation of damage assessment reports for submittal to State and FEMA for reimbursement of costs incurred during emergency.
Responsible Units – Capital Planning, Financial Services, Risk Management Office


The University's response efforts could last for hours, days, or even weeks depending on the severity of the event. It is essential to the overall success of the response that everyone clearly understands the structure of the Plan and what his or her responsibilities are within their Department Emergency Action Plan.

Department Emergency Action Plan guidelines are available from Emergency Services. Use them as a framework to develop a Department Emergency Action Plan that includes pre- and post-evacuation procedures, hazard mitigation procedures, use of fire alarms and extinguishers, and the creation of an emergency callback list for key personnel. Department employees should be trained in basic first aid and CPR procedures. The Department Emergency Action Plan should be updated and reviewed with all staff annually. Department plans will be exercised routinely as part of periodic emergency preparedness exercises held throughout the campus.

Questions? Contact EH&S Emergency Management and Mission Continuity