Fire & Rescue has key role in campus emergency management

Rescue Unit Chief John Keating '17 explains the process of preparation and planning to remain current with the times

August 5, 2022
By Kaylee Sayers '23

John Keating ’17

Saint Michael’s Fire and Rescue (SMFR) responders and Public Safety officers are responsible for the safety and well-being of students and faculty year-round on campus, in addition to the surrounding community. In the event of a large-scale emergency, they are the ones designated to execute a plan to best protect the Saint Michael’s campus community. John Keating ’17 is the Rescue Unit Chief for SMFR, and he answered some questions about emergency events and the plans that are currently in place for response strategy.

What is Emergency Management?

Emergency management is the managerial function charged with creating the framework within which communities reduce vulnerability to hazards and cope with disasters. Emergency management seeks to promote safer, less vulnerable communities with the capacity to cope with hazards and disasters. Emergency management protects communities by coordinating and integrating all activities necessary to build, sustain, and improve the capability to mitigate against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from threatened to actual natural disasters, acts of terrorism, or other man-made disasters.

What is considered to fall under the umbrella of Emergency Management events?

Threatened or actual natural disasters, acts of terrorism, or other man-made disasters.

Who on campus and/or in the surrounding community is responsible for organizing and responding to Emergency Management level events?

When were talk about Emergency Management on campus, we really talk about two different types of personnel responding to the event or incident. We have the responders and then we have the stakeholders.

The responders will be those actually responding to the emergency event. The boots on the ground per se. These include members of Fire/Rescue, Public Safety, and our community partners such as local police departments, other fire departments, and other ambulance services.

The stakeholders are members of our campus leadership teams who are responsible for supporting the scene responders and who are responsible for making strategic emergency-related policy decisions. These stakeholders are either members of the College’s Executive Policy Group (EPG) or Emergency Management Team. These personnel will manage the tactical/operational facets of the emergency and will direct and support short-term response activities. They will plan, coordinate, and delegate work assignments in support of the on-scene incident command/unified command and emergency responders.

What role do you and SMFR play in the execution of Emergency Management strategies?

SMFR will likely be the initial responders to any emergency that might occur on campus. Personally, as the Chief of the Rescue Unit, I will likely be directly on scene of the event in the Incident Command Post helping to organize personnel to respond to the emergency. I also serve as a member of the campus Emergency Management Team and could also be assigned to the Emergency Operations Center away from the scene of the emergency [where I would help] to coordinate the College’s overall response to the event.smfr logo

Why is Emergency Management important?

Emergency Management is important because each day the College and surrounding communities could be faced with any form of large scale emergency whether that be a disastrous weather event or a man-made disaster such as a cyber-attack or active threat situation on campus. Focusing on Emergency Management allows the College to be better prepared for emergencies and more resilient in the face of possible disasters. Having well-designed and well-practiced plans as well as trained staff members will allow the College to swiftly and effectively respond to any and all emergencies that might develop.

Does Saint Michael’s have a plan in place?

Great question! We do have a plan to respond to emergencies that might arise on campus and this is known as the Emergency Operations Plan or EOP. The purpose of the SMC EOP is to provide authority, establish guidelines, assign responsibilities, and promote awareness in preventing, preparing for, responding to, and recovering from emergencies that may affect Saint Michael’s College and our community. The plan provides guidance and structure to stakeholders to assist those affected in dealing with crisis coordination as a team and external entities and provide resources to expedite the return to normal operations with minimal negative impact.

How often is that plan updated?

The plan is reviewed annually and fully republished every 3-5 years.

Why are we having these conversations now?

We are having these conversations now because the Emergency Operations Plan is currently undergoing its annual review, and we are anticipating fully updating/republishing the Emergency Operations Plan in 2023. Additionally, in light of the recent emergency events in the nation (active shooters, KY and Yellowstone flooding, and various cyber-attacks), we wanted to reassure our community that Saint Michael’s is well prepared and fully capable to respond to any emergency that may arise on campus.

Who should students, parents, and faculty speak to if they have questions?

Students and parents can email the Office of Public Safety at

Faculty and staff who have questions or who are interested in learning more about Emergency Management and possible training opportunities can email me directly at . We are always looking for faculty/staff who are interested in training in Emergency Management!

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