MCCC working to revise Emergency Response Plan

A group of faculty members and administrators have joined to revise and update MCCC’s Emergency Response Plan. 

The current ERP has been put to the test over the past year, and at times, the execution of the plan has faced criticism from faculty members. 

As reported by the Agora in April of 2023, MCCC received a bomb threat that was deemed a hoax. Then, in July of the same year, an emergency response to an electrical fire in the H Building was delayed due to a fire alarm being set to test during the college’s annual system maintenance.

Patrick Wise, professor of psychology, presents a student an award during Honors Night in 2022. Wise, who has a background in managing emergency situations, is a member of a group at MCCC tapped to update the college’s Emergency Response Plan. (File Photo)

Curtis Creagh, vice president of finance and administration, said the ERP, which is included in the Safety Services department, is included in his division. 

Creagh said he is accountable for reviewing the ERP and making sure it is “updated for accuracy, relevance, and reflecting comprehensive perspective for a campus response.” Through conversations with Cox, Creagh said it was clear the plan needed to be updated. 

“The plan included information that needed updating, as well as, a fresher look to ensure it reflects current practices for handling and responding to current day emergency concerns.”

Creagh selected MCCC Chief of Security Services, Troy Cox, to lead the effort of revising the ERP. 

“Troy is experienced in this area of response, accepts and under- stands his role as leading and directing this effort, and engages with a diverse group or team with whom he can vet the plan, discuss ideas and practices, and conclude on an updated plan, accordingly,” Creagh said. Patrick Wise, professor of psychology, is also a member of the group that has been tapped to update the ERP. 

Wise said his background will bring a lot to the group in its pursuit of developing a more up-to-date emergency response. 

Before coming to MCCC, Wise said that he worked as the program manager for assessment, emergency services, and the Link Crisis Hotline for a county behavioral health agency for 11 years. 

“My responsibilities were to manage, provide direct service, and train professionals/paraprofessionals in these areas,” Wise said. “One area of responsibility was to manage, assess, and train clinicians to assess people who were a threat to themselves and others.” 

During his time with the county behavioral agency, he said he assisted, supervised or reviewed more than 2,000 cases and directly assessed over 1,000 cases. 

Wise said he believes his previous work makes him a valuable asset to the group, and that a main goal of his is to make sure the plan is comprehensive – especially when it comes to active shooter scenarios, but he said the ERP is about more than just human created problems. 

“We need to have emergency plans, but not just for active shooters,” he said. “There are from a framework standpoint other threats, you have natural and hazardous situations – that are human related or not – a tornado would be natural, a meltdown at Fermi would be hazardous,” he said. 

Wise said the delay in updating plans is not solely related to MCCC, but rather an issue across the board. 

“Plans usually sit on shelves and most people don’t know what they say and people don’t know what they say and they are not routinely reevaluated and they are not routinely practiced,” he said. 

Wise acknowledged that the campus does fire drills, saying “I don’t want to imply we don’t do anything,” but he wants to prioritize honing the ERP’s chain of command. 

“Where is the handoff to state and federal authorities, where do we go? So, the plan has to incorporate a number of things,” he said. As the group works to update the ERP, Creagh said “important goals in emergency management include saving lives, protecting property, and clear communication.” 

“We are prepared to address some emergencies now and strive to prepare for others. Recognizing this, we have in place, the College’s Cabinet administration, a team with diverse experience in managing their respective areas of campus, a threat assessment and emergency management team, and a supporting staff from other parts of campus.” 

Chief of Security Services Troy Cox responses were pending review at the time of this article’s deadline.