Frequently Asked Questions
Should my college/center/department develop an emergency management plan?
Yes. All UAHuntsville departments and centers are required to develop comprehensive emergency management plans, including Building Emergency Action Plans (BEAP) and Continuity of Operations Plans (COOP). However, the University leaves to the discretion of each college or division the decision to develop one comprehensive plan for the entire group or to develop plans for each functional or academic area (unit / department). The driving consideration should be whether or not a single plan would be sufficient to recover all or part of the division/college's functions following a major disaster.
Who is responsible for developing the BEAP and COOP plans in my area?
Administrators, deans, department chairs, and center directors are responsible for ensuring BEAP and COOP plans are developed for their areas. Typically, a planner is appointed for the college/center/department and planning supervised by the responsible administrator, dean, department chair, or center director.
Note that BEAPs should be a collaborative effort between all units, departments, and colleges within a building.
This looks like a lot of work - is it really worth the effort?
Yes. Having detailed, up-to-date plans is necessary to provide protection of life and property, and to ensure the University is able to continue its critical operations following a crisis event. We owe it to our students, faculty, and staff to ensure their safety and the continuity of UAHuntsville operations.
I've never done an BEAP or COOP plan before - where do I start?
Beginning with the FEMA introductory COOP course (IS-547) is recommended. This online self-study course provides an insight into the reasons for planning, the planning process, and the components of emergency response and continuity plans. This course is required for all administrators, deans, department chairs, center directors, and all faculty and staff members appointed as area COOP planners. It is recommended for any persons interested in learning more about recovery planning.
Does FERPA or HIPAA play a part in emergency response and continuity planning?
The short answer is "Yes" to both. A summary for each is:
HIPAA § 142.308(a) specifies security standards to ensure data integrity, confidentiality and availability. These standards include risk assessments as well as regularly updated contingency plans to facilitate continuity of operations and disaster recovery. Not having current continuity plans results in non-compliance with HIPAA requirements under this section.
FERPA allows disclosure of information from student records to appropriate authorities in connection with an emergency if knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other persons. This is a limited disclosure provision based upon a good-faith determination in light of facts in an emergency situation. Such disclosures should be made only to professionals trained to evaluate and handle such emergencies (such as law enforcement, mental health, or healthcare/medical service providers). As a general rule, such disclosures of student education records would be unlikely to be deemed a voilation of FERPA. Emergency response plans should reflect who in the department is authorized to release student education information, to whom that information should be released, and under what general conditions a release should be performed.