Crisis Response Overview


October 2012


A crisis, for the purposes of this response overview, is a significant event that threatens the well-being of one or more individuals or the University as a whole. A crisis may include (but is not limited to) a natural disaster (fire, flood, tornado), a violent crime (such as an abduction/hostage situation, homicide, physical assault, sexual assault, armed robbery, bombing or bomb threat, stalking), health threat (communicable disease outbreak, chemical spill, radiological threat, or sudden contamination), civil disturbance, sudden or unexplained death (suicide, suspicious circumstances, accidental death), or other circumstances directly affecting the campus community (natural gas explosion, plane crash, train derailment).

The University's goals when a crisis occurs are to:
  • Protect the human, physical and financial assets of the University.
  • Respond quickly to immediate threats to the well-being of students, faculty, staff and visitors.
  • Respond to the emotional, as well as physical impacts of a crisis on survivors, family members, and the greater University community.
  • Communicate openly, honestly and proactively with the University's constituents, recognizing the importance of avoiding panic, speaking with one voice, and balancing individuals' legal rights to privacy with the public's need to know about the situation.
  • Demonstrate through its management of the crisis that the University is maintaining responsible control of the situation, viewing each crisis as an opportunity to establish trust and build the University's credibility and reputation.
  • Coordinate the University's crisis response with local, state, and national resources as appropriate.
  • Initiate internal review of the crisis situation as appropriate.
  • Ensure appropriate follow-through on commitments made during the crisis and, after the crisis has subsided, evaluate the University's response in order to improve procedures.

The University has established a Crisis Response Team (CRT) that may be called together to develop and manage the institution's response to a crisis. In addition, a Core Crisis Group (CCG), made up of a limited number of members of the CRT, also has been established.

The Associate Vice President for University Communications is responsible for coordinating the institutional response; however, any senior officer, or any other member of the CRT may call upon any member of the CCG to call the team together if a crisis occurs. The CCG will determine which members from the CRT will be called upon to aid in the University's response. Members of the team are considered to be on-call as needed. They are:

Core Crisis Group (CCG)
VP/Finance and Administrative Services, CCG& CRT Chair
Chief of Police/CMU Police
Associate Director, Police
AVP/University Communications
Director, Public Relations, University Communications
Vice Provost, Academic Administration
Vice President, Enrollment & Student Services
Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs
Crisis Response Team (CRT)
Director, Networks, Information Technology
Asst. Mgr/Help Desk, Information Tech.
AVP/Facilities Management
Director of Facilities Operations, Facilities Management
AVP/ Institutional Diversity
Director, Minority Student Services
AVP/Residences and Auxiliary Service
Associate Director, Residence Life
AVP/Human Resources
Director, Employee Relations & Technology, Human Resources
Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs
Assistant Director, Student Life
Director/Counseling Center
Faculty, Counseling Center
Assistant Dean/Faculty Group Practice/Health Services
Assistant Director/Business Services, University Health Services
Director/Risk Management, EHS
Executive Secretary, Risk Management/EHS
Manager, EHS, Emergency Management
Environmental Administrator, Environmental Health & Safety, Manager RM, EHS/Lab Safety
Chairperson, Military Science
Others as appropriate (e.g., legal counsel)
Field Communications Officers
Coordinator, Student Leadership Development, Leadership Institute
Project Manager, Facilities Management
Executive Director of Alumni Relations
Director, Events and Conference Services


Policies and procedures
: The University has a number of policies and procedures in place to respond to specific crisis situations as they occur. For example, the University has developed a Closing Policy as well as emergency action plans. Specific departments have emergency action plans. CMU Police has procedures to respond to reports of crime, the Counseling Center has procedures for responding to students in emotional distress, Facilities Management has a disaster plan for responding to natural disasters, and Residence Life has plans for responding to events in residence halls. While most of these plans outline procedures for immediate responses to events, they should be viewed as part of a larger, coordinated University response to a crisis. In addition, the University is in the process of developing a business continuation plan to deal with the after effects of a crisis.

Assembling the response team
: As a crisis occurs, offices will use existing plans to provide immediate response to protect the well-being of students, faculty, staff and visitors. A member of the campus community or CRT will contact a CCG member as soon as he or she becomes aware of the crisis. The CCG may convene and together they will determine the need to assemble the CRT or any member of CCG may call the CRT to assemble. (The first response to a crisis, aside from initial emergency aide, should be to consult with others before initiating a response.)
The CCG chair will assemble the CRT as necessary. Responsibilities of the team are outlined on the following page:
  • Designate a Crisis Coordinator as appropriate. The coordinator will work closely with the CCG to respond to the situation or will assume full responsibility for the coordination of services and activities.
  • Notify the President, Provost, appropriate Vice Presidents and/or Deans as soon as possible and keep them informed. The President is responsible for communicating with the Board of Trustees if deemed necessary.
  • Convene meetings to coordinate services and facilitate communications so that all needs are met efficiently as practical.
  • Convene a meeting of pertinent individuals to evaluate the adequacy of response to the crisis.
  • Manage communication about the crisis with University constituencies in accordance with University Communications emergency communications plan.
Team responsibilities: The assembled CRT will:
  • Gather and share information about the event.
  • Separate and clarify issues; define terms; identify additional information needed.
  • Solicit opinions from members and discuss openly and honestly all points of view.
  • Determine overall University responses/positions to the event.
  • Identify individuals or groups affected by the event.
  • Plan appropriate responses for each group.
  • Assign responsibility for carrying out plans.
  • Recommend initiation of internal investigation of incident.
  • Reconvene following the crisis to assess the adequacy of the University response.
A crisis response considerations sheet outlining examples of these activities is included in this document. This list is intended to provide focus for discussion during a highly pressurized situation and should not be considered a limit to potential responses. Some members of the team will automatically assume certain responsibilities based upon the nature of their positions. The Dean of Students, for example, will oversee the direct care and service to students and families who are closely involved in a crisis.
Crisis Response Consideration Sheet
Gather information. Define, for example:
  • Nature of event
  • Names, ages, phone numbers, addresses, status (i.e. student, staff) of those involved, including witnesses
  • Date, time and location of event
  • Nature/number of injuries
  • Property damage/estimate of loss/nature of insurance
  • Nature of immediate response (what has already happened)
Define issues. Does the situation involve, for example:
  • Controlled substances
  • Racial/ethnic intimidation
  • International incident
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity/gender expression
  • Hate speech
  • Guns
  • Fire
  • Severe Weather
  • Chemical Release
  • Arson
  • Security
  • Safety
  • Sexual/other assault
  • Prominent individual
  • Homicide
  • Accidental Death
  • Communicable Disease
Determine additional information needed. For example:
  • What policies, procedures, educational programs (training) are in place to address the issues (e.g., student code, sexual assault awareness programs)?
Determine the need to assemble the CRT. For example:
  • CCG and CRT member(s) will consult and determine the need to assemble the CRT
  • Assemble CRT
  • Designate a Crisis Coordinator
  • Include local, state and federal representation, if appropriate
  • Define overall institutional response
  • Prepare statement if appropriate
Identify affected groups and groups needing information. For example:
  • Survivors
  • Survivors, family, friends, roommates
  • Enrolled students, parents
  • Faculty and staff
  • Community members
  • Media
  • Prospective students, families
  • Legislators, local, state and federal government agencies
  • Trustees
  • Alumni and donors
  • Vendors, contractors, service providers
Define response actions and assign responsibilities. For example:
  • Organize triage
  • Request Crisis Communication Assistance
  • Closing facilities
  • Cancellation of events
  • Increased security
  • Ensure basic needs are met
  • Special housing arrangements
  • Contact survivor(s)
  • Contact survivors, family, friends, roommates
  • Free phone calls home
  • News conference
  • Rumor-control hotline
  • Extension of academic and fee deadlines
  • Expanded escort service on and off campus
  • Meeting with registered student organizations
  • Grief counseling
  • Letters to families/alumni/donors
  • File Insurance​ Claim
Other considerations. For example:
  • Use of call list established with University's emergency closing policy
  • Sites for managing crisis and meeting with media in relation to crisis scene
  • Special security, telecommunications, computer or equipment needs
  • Coordinate with local, state and federal agencies, if appropriate
Related Web sites: The University has created a consolidated web site with information on all information related to crisis and emergency preparedness at Central Michigan University. That web site can be found at: Emergency Management.


If you have any questions or concerns please contact the CMU Police at
(989) 774-3081 or Kathy Litwiller at (989) 774-7398 /