By DAVID DUPONT
BG Independent News
Keeping students, staff, faculty, and visitors safe on campus takes more than glancing up at the sky.
With thousands of people’s lives at stake, Matthew Keefe, manager of support services, Public Safety Department, said it takes collaboration with a network of people, including officials from the city officials, county Emergency Management Agency, and the National Weather Service to try to stay on top of severe weather. For two years Keefe and others BGSU have been working to develop a plan to meet the criteria of the National Weather Service’s StormReady program.
That program provides a standard level of emergency preparedness for hazardous weather.
Finding out who he needed to connect with was both the greatest challenge of the process and the greatest reward.
The university was honored Friday as the first college in Northwest Ohio, and the fifth in the state, to be declared StormReady.
President Rodney Rogers said such a move is a reflection of how seriously BGSU takes its responsibility to keep students, both the 6,000 who live on campus, as well as those who live off campus, and the rest of the campus community, safe.
He noted that 90 percent of all presidentially declared disasters are weather related.
Those could tornadoes like the one that struck Lake Township in 2010, said Keefe.
Or it could be the wind storm that sheared part of the roof off the Moore Musical Arts Center in 2003.
Karen Oudeman, of the National Weather Service Cleveland, spelled out what’s expected of StormReady designees.
“They must establish a 24-hour warning point and operations center,” she said.
Also, they must have multiple ways of receiving severe weather warnings and forecasts and for alerting the public.
They must create a system that monitors local weather conditions
StormReady designees, Oudeman said, must also promote the significance of public readiness by publicizing its plan and by providing training to weather watchers and holding training exercises.
An outside panel reviewed, BGSU’s program and found it complied with the StormReady guidelines.
The process is ongoing, and the certification must be renewed every three years.