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Education

Helping educational institutions protect their students, faculty, staff, and assets.

From catastrophic hurricanes to campus violence to large-scale floods, recent events have demonstrated that the long-term health of an education institution is inextricably linked to how well it prepares for, responds to, and recovers from all-hazards.

Witt O’Brien’s has specific, extensive experience in working with numerous K-12, colleges, and universities in all phases of crisis management, public safety, security, and business continuity. We understand that the bottom line of every comprehensive emergency management program is to protect lives, minimize damage, and provide a process and structure so that any educational institution can continue or resume its administrative operations and academic programs as quickly as possible in a disaster or incident.

Prepare

ePlanPro® provides a comprehensive and quality controlled option to today’s complex planning and recordkeeping requirements. Designed by the industry’s most respected preparedness, compliance, and response professionals, and built by our dedicated staff of exclusive experienced developers, this software combines decades of experience using the latest technology to provide this state-of-the-art solution.

Witt O’Brien’s understands the significance of athletics teams and special events on campuses, and the importance of ensuring safety and security in sporting facilities and public venues. In working with higher education institutions, Witt O’Brien’s include sports venues and special events in emergency planning and procedures, and can work with institutions of higher education to identify risks and create specific safety and emergency management plans and protocols for special events and sports venues. Witt O’Brien’s planning for sports venues and special events always includes appropriate departments from across the institution, as well as pertinent external partners and subject matter experts.

As entities that provide public service as well as support business functions and obtain revenue, institutions of higher education need a business continuity/continuity of operations (BC/COOP) plan as part of their emergency preparedness programs. A BC/COOP plan ensures quick resumption of service and essential functions following an emergency, despite the impacts to the institution. These plans evaluate the business operations of the institution and identify various continuity considerations such as continuity priorities, roles and responsibilities, vital records, critical systems and infrastructure, alternate working locations, work-around procedures, delegations of authority, and lines of succession to successfully complete the institution’s essential functions. Whether the institution must ensure housing, police services, financial aid, payroll, or any other public service or business function is continued, a BC/COOP plan will assist the institution in getting back to normal operations as quickly as possible.

Whether a higher education institution has a seasoned emergency management program, or is just beginning to develop it, a program assessment can help identify the strengths and areas of improvement necessary to take the program to the next level. Witt O’Brien’s takes a comprehensive approach to emergency management program assessments and evaluates the entire program against laws, regulations, guidance, and best practices in higher education emergency management. Witt O’Brien’s gathers extensive documentation and data for the assessments, as well as interviews key staff in the emergency management program. All assessment data is compiled into a comprehensive report, identifying areas of strengths and areas of improvement. All findings are presented on a scale of completion and provide recommendations for suggested improvements. The comprehensive assessment can then lead to a strategic planning effort for the program that outlines goals and objectives for the program as well as outlines its missions and vision. The assessment, along with the strategic planning effort, can help an institution’s program move towards success and growth as it aligns with best practices in higher education emergency management.

Witt O’Brien’s has extensive experience in EOP development for a variety of universities across the country, and is a leader in the utilization and implementation of current higher education emergency management best practices. We understand firsthand the unique environment of a higher education institution, and how critical effective crisis and emergency management techniques become in the wake of high profile and/or tragic incidents. We work directly with university and college personnel at the department and unit level to ensure the EOP development process includes input from a variety of stakeholders, creating the most comprehensive and user-friendly plan possible.

Witt O’Brien’s has extensive experience in design, implementation, facilitation, evaluation, and control of all aspects of exercises for emergency management programs at institutions of higher education across the nation. Recognizing the unique hazards and vulnerabilities of the higher education community, Witt O’Brien’s has worked with a variety of clients to develop exercises that address their needs and specific hazards that are unique to their campus locations.

Comprehensive, all-hazards threat, hazard, and vulnerability assessments are an important and vital preliminary step to any higher education institution’s emergency management planning process. By identifying and prioritizing hazards, threats, and their associated impacts on the institution’s mission, operations, and emergency management efforts, the university or college can create emergency plans and procedures that reflect the institution’s most prevalent vulnerabilities. These assessments will provide the necessary framework and foundation to sustain a safe and healthy educational environment for members of the campus community and its visitors.

Witt O’Brien’s believes in the value of training on emergency management processes and procedures prior to emergencies that may affect an institution. Witt O’Brien’s develops training services based on the five phases of emergency management: prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery, and the needs and unique circumstances of the individual higher education institution and its emergency management organization. Witt O’Brien’s presents information, procedures, and protocols in a manageable and easily understood format, allowing all involved personnel to learn from the training, regardless of their previous level of emergency management experience.

Communicate

PIERPro™ offers a secure, enterprise-wide cloud-based communications platform which provides flexible solutions for handling internal and external communications, making it easier to deliver messages, streamline processes, automate tasks, and prevent inaccuracies during routine events, minor incidents, and major catastrophes.

With the sensitive and sometimes tragic incidents that have occurred at higher education institutions in the past decade, Witt O'Brien's is keenly aware of the staggering social and reputational impact of highly publicized crises on higher education communities. These recent incidents have demonstrated to higher education institutions that preparing for crises is the responsibility of all levels of management at a higher education institution, and that the impacts of complex emergencies and disasters can be mitigated with the proper foresight and planning, as well as effective and timely critical decision making. Witt O'Brien's understands firsthand the unique environment of a higher education institution, and how critical effective crisis management techniques become in the wake of high profile and/or tragic incidents. This includes a comprehensive and practiced crisis communications plan and program that can be implemented as quickly as possible.

Witt O’Brien’s has extensive experience in developing emergency notification protocols and training programs for higher education institutions, and has a keen understanding of the requirements of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 and its Clery requirements. Witt O’Brien’s has been specifically selected by institutions that have faced high-profile crises to improve their emergency notification programs following the crisis. Witt O’Brien’s knows first-hand the importance of delivering timely and accurate messaging to a campus community when its members face a threat, and how critical effective emergency notification techniques become in the wake of high profile and/or tragic incidents. We have worked with numerous universities and colleges to evaluate their current emergency notification programs and create protocols that work, and we work closely with our clients to find innovative ways to meet their individual needs.

Recover

Obtaining grant funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other federal agencies to help with your disaster response and recovery efforts is a major challenge. Keeping these funds through the close-out and audit process, however, can be extremely difficult as well and can expose you to substantial financial risk. Witt O’Brien’s has a proven track record of providing Universities and school boards with the technical assistance to prepare for closeout, assisting you with fully documenting and justifying your costs, maximizing the funding you receive, and resolving any outstanding issues to protect you from potential recoupment efforts.

Witt O’Brien’s always recommends performing a thorough post-incident assessment and after-action review following major emergencies that affect higher education institutions. Post-incident assessments and after-action reports are a form of post-incident debriefing that evaluate an incident that has taken place, and identifies the strengths, successes, and potential areas of improvement that have resulted from that incident. This analysis allows for the implementation of recommendations and action items, as well as the sustainment of strengths, to enhance the existing emergency management program.

Witt O’Brien’s is committed to helping the nation’s educational facilities resume the teaching of our youthafter a disaster strikes. Witt O’Brien’s is a nationally recognized leader in assisting Universities and School Boards manage disaster recovery, navigating the FEMA Public Assistance and Hazard Mitigation Grant Programs, and providing expert staffing support to address immediate needs and maximize recovery funding.