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Public Safety stresses planning for emergencies

Capt. Adam Strzemienski of the University of North Georgia's Department of Public Safety talks to cadets during a recent preparedness training session.

Do you know what to do if an emergency situation occurs while you are on campus at the University of North Georgia (UNG)?

UNG has an Emergency Action Plan that includes contact information, safety tips, and instructions on how UNG faculty, staff and students should handle various situations, from inclement weather to armed assailants.

"We hope these situations never happen, but we want to focus on emergency preparedness with training for our faculty, staff and students," UNG Police Chief Justin Gaines said. "Our mission is to protect and serve, but also to educate. Public safety is everyone's responsibility, and we can achieve a greater level of safety by providing training to everyone who is on our campuses regularly."

Through a recent reorganization, the Department of Public Safety created a new role to increase its emphasis on emergency preparedness. Capt. Adam Strzemienski, UNG's newly appointed captain of emergency preparedness, also has advice pertinent to any emergency situation: Keep calm, remain alert and know what to do.

"My main goal is to enhance our ability to mitigate any emergency situation and I want to do that through awareness," he said. "The Department of Public Safety, along with others at the university, will be involved in handling an emergency situation, so we're not going to be available to give step-by-step instructions."

Strzemienski said UNG departments and units should have plans for dealing with emergency situations, including a business continuity plan. The plan determines how an office will continue to function during a disruption of service, including establishing lines of succession, identifying and cross-training for mission-critical tasks, and creating phone trees and other communication methods.

On an individual level, Strzemienski advises all faculty, staff and students should:

  • Make sure contact information is up-to-date in the UNG Alert system before an emergency happens.
  • Have an exit strategy. Know where the exits are in the building, including how to reach them if visibility is limited or you have to crawl to an exit, and have an alternate exit.
  • Be aware of what's going on around you.
  • Have a designated muster point where people in your office or classroom will meet if you have to evacuate the building.
  • Talk about emergency preparedness.

"People need to talk about emergency situations to be ready in case something happens, but many find it uncomfortable to do so or hard to find the time to have these discussions," Strzemienski said. "The more planning and preparation everyone at the university does to know what they should do in an emergency, the better the Department of Public Safety and the university as a whole can respond to any situation."

In addition to education and awareness, Strzemienski also serves as the UNG fire marshal and official liaison with a multitude of local, state and federal agencies. Strzemienski earned bachelor and master's degrees in criminal justice at UNG and has 10-plus years of experience in public safety, including five years at UNG. He previously worked as a Lumpkin County fireman and sheriff's deputy. Strzemienski also has received training in the National Incident Management System and emergency preparedness for higher education.

Strzemienski is available to help UNG departments or units develop business continuity plans or answer other questions about emergency preparedness and can be reached via email at adam.strzemienski

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