March 23, 2010

Severe Spring Weather and Tornado Season

Severe weather can happen any time and often strikes with little warning. As we head into severe spring weather and tornado season, we want you to be prepared.

Main Campus at Vanderbilt:
One of the ways Vanderbilt ensures the campus is informed of severe weather is through a weather monitoring system exclusively for the Vanderbilt campus. The purpose of this system is to give faculty, staff, students, patients and visitors time to prepare for weather emergencies, specifically tornados, and severe thunderstorms. This system, including outdoor sirens, will be activated if a tornado is likely to strike campus within 15 minutes.

A "Yellow Alert Standby for Tornado" will be announced over the public address system when a tornado warning is issued for Davidson County or at the discretion of the VUH AOC/AC, based on weather conditions. When this is announced, staff should assess the ambulatory status of all patients. Non-ambulatory patients should be turned away from the window, and curtains should be closed. Staff should also alert visitors of the situation. When the threat has passed, a "Yellow Alert Standby for Tornado has been cancelled" will be announced over the public address system. Upon hearing this announcement, staff should resume normal operations and communicate to patients and visitors that the danger has passed.

An "Orange Alert for Tornado" will be broadcast over the public address system and via the hospital paging system when a tornado has been identified approaching the Vanderbilt campus. This announcement may be activated despite what you see and hear on the TV news stations because our weather monitoring system is exclusively for the Vanderbilt campus. When this is announced, non-ambulatory patients should be turned away from the window, and curtains should be closed. Ambulatory patients should be directed to move to the interior part of the unit/department, away from doors and windows. Staff should also direct visitors to move to the interior part of the unit/department away from doors and windows.

Do not direct visitors and/or patients to the basement of the building. Once the danger has passed, an "Orange Alert for Tornado has been cancelled" will be announced over the public address system. Upon hearing this announcement, staff should resume normal operations and communicate that the danger has passed to patients and visitors.

Staff who work in areas with many windows (such as hospital lobbies and cafeterias) should direct patients and visitors to move to an interior corridor of the building away from doors and windows. Do not direct visitors and/or patients to the basement of the building. 

Faculty and staff who work in buildings on campus that do not receive overhead announcements should have a weather radio in their work areas. These areas should have designated staff to monitor the weather radio during severe weather, and should also have a designated emergency coordinator who directs faculty, staff, patients and visitors to move to an interior corridor within the building away from doors and windows when a severe weather response is needed.

These designated individuals should communicate with each other and direct the emergency response to the severe weather in these buildings. Do not direct visitors and/or patients to the basement of the building. When the designated weather radio monitor hears the threat has passed, they should communicate this information to the designated emergency coordinator in their work area. The emergency coordinator should communicate this information to faculty and staff and direct them to resume normal operations. This information should also be communicated to patients and visitors.

Vanderbilt One Hundred Oaks Campus:
Faculty and staff who work at the One Hundred Oaks campus also receive severe weather alerts through a weather monitoring system exclusively for the One Hundred Oaks campus. The purpose of this system is to give faculty, staff, students, patients and visitors time to prepare for weather emergencies. We recommend that faculty and staff who work at this campus review the Tornado and Inclement Weather sections of the One Hundred Oaks Emergency Operations Quick Reference Guide to prepare for severe spring weather and tornado season.

Vanderbilt Offsite Locations:
Faculty and staff who work at offsite locations will not receive overhead announcements. They should also have a weather radio in their work area. These areas should have designated staff to monitor the weather radio during severe weather, and should also have a designated emergency coordinator who directs faculty, staff, patients, and visitors to move to the an interior corridor within the building away from doors and windows. These designated individuals should communicate with each other and direct the emergency response to the severe weather in these buildings.

To keep abreast of weather developments you can go to the NOAA’s National Weather website at http://www.srh.noaa.gov/bna/ or stay tuned to local television stations.

Advanced planning and preparations for severe weather are critical to reducing injuries and saving lives. Let’s work together to keep our Medical Center safe.

Thank you.
VUMC Department of Emergency Preparedness