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Wensa,. eebr6,20. . heMcia Diy-C
At Big House
and your house,
for the worst
Saving lives during a catastrophe
isn't just about firehoses and storm shelters.
A look at the oily vigilance
behind the University's disaster response plans.
By Christina Hildreth I Daily News Editor
J ust before 3 p.m. on Easter Sunday in 1988, widely - posted on DPS's website, printed on flip
Engineering Prof. Perry Samson ran into his charts in buildings across campus and taught to
backyard, anxiously peering up at the sky. ushers at football games. Like most policies at the
Wind speeds were almost 70 mph and tornado University, disaster planning is decentralized but
sirens were blaring. A vortex had been spotted loosely collaborative. DPS leads some initiatives,
nearby and the building thunderstorm was about while University Health Services lead others.
to drop a twister. Some areas of campus just require fire drills. Oth-
His fell l re hiding in their ers, like Michigan Stadium, are more complicated.
junkie, st b e examining the 11,000people withnowhere to go
clouds for o ti
He wor direction: It was Anyone who regularly attends Michigan foot-
headed s the o 1' in the middle of ball games knows the cardinal rule of fandom:
the Duala:'ii hmedontbring abig bag.
sto in a mobile home Since Sept.11 game security at Michigan Stadi-
on t su ttsi the city, rambled um has increased dramatically. Spectators aren't
aphazar rth g several garages allowed bags larger than a two-slice toaster and
along Scio police are constantly on the lookout for suspicious
The twister petered out efore reaching cam- packages.
pus, weakly touching down once more north of In line with federal regulation, airspace over
M-14 before dying. the Big House is no-fly zone from one hour before
That time, the University escaped relatively the game until an hour after. Any planes entering
unscathed: the storm tore shingles off the Art and the 3,000-foot-high, 3-square-nautical-mile space
rchitecu- uilding, cpower on e Hill and above the wt m o
wrested a f light fixtures from Um rsity Tow- ficcontrol s.Ea ,a fi
ers, but it harmed little else. parks near the gates and stays for the duration of
For University officials in the Department of the game -justincase.
Public Safety and several other emergency plan- "Do we need to plan for terrorism? Yes," DPS
ning offices around campus, disasters like the 1988 Spokeswoman Diane 'Brown said. "Is it highly
tornado are a constantsource oftconcern. likely it wouldhappenWho's to say?"
DPS maintains extensive emergency response She stressed that other emergenci pose a
plans mirroring that of a small city. They cover a much more likely dangrtofans. Thebi t prob-
breadth of disasters like flooding, terrorism and lemisevacuation-ge ing110,000 peop o move
hazardous material spills. quickly and orderly ou of abowl-shaped structure
These plans are updated every day as Univer- with limited exits is ob'ously tricky.
sity departments identify new safety hazards and Trampling is a very real threat, especially if
reevaluate old ones. scared fans try to escape via the field. On the turf,
Some prcedures -like how DPS officers there's only one way out: through the tunnel,
would respond to an activegunman or a bomb which could easilybecomehblocke. It's not hard
threat - ate top secret. Others are distributed to imagine panicked fans crushing others against
The University Hospital maintains protective equipment for workers in the case of a hazardous situation.
I, we ncounter that situ-
ation, we'll try to do the
best we can. A little bit of
it is just the risk people
take when they come to an
- Diane Brown,
, : ;-
Safe haven atthe'U'
At the University Hospital, patients' lives
depend on ventilators and intravenous drips.
Something as simple as a power outage could kill
"The big difference between the hospital and a
our care who are fragile," said Peter Forster, direc-
tor of the hospital emergency department. "That
puts a burden on us as caregivers to protect those
people. Someone who's just had surgery can't run
out of the building during a fire drill."
The hospital is plugged into the University's
10-mile-long electric power grid, which conducts
enough electricity each year to power a 100-watt
light bulb for 563,000 years. The grid produces
much of its own power.
Several heavy electrical lines run to the hospi-
tal, which also maintains its own backup diesel
generators. Multiple main circuits and an intricate
web of redundancy make sure the lights never go
All of this proved.crucial during the regional
power outage in August 2003, which left many
parts of the East Cost and Midwest scraping for
woman Diane Brown said. Except the University.
The community looksato the hospital for help in
times of disaster, Forster said. During the blackout,
some students wandered into the hospital think-
ing they could find something to eat.
The hospital wouldbecome even more of a focal
point during a public health crisis like the much-
discussed possibility ofa bird flu epidemic. Health
administrators have spent cou less hours over
an hich some estimatecould kill more
See DISASTER, page 7B