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Handbook of Operating Procedures

Emergency Management and Business Continuity Plans

Policy Number: 141


Emergency management and business continuity plans


Employees and trainees (students, residents, fellows)

Date Reviewed:
September 2018
Responsible Office:
Safety, Health, Environment and Risk Management; Finance and Business Services
Responsible Executive:
Vice President, Safety, Health, Environment and Risk Management and Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer


This policy defines the responsibilities of personnel and departments to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies, disasters, or other interruptions to normal operations at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (“University”). The policy assigns responsibility and action items to University employees.

Employees, trainees, volunteers, observers, visitors, contractors and patients are to adhere to instructions provided during an emergency such as evacuation procedures and controlled access limitations.

Procedures to protect life, property, the environment, and the continuity of business operations at the University are detailed in the Emergency Management Plan (EMP) and the Business Continuity Plan (BCP). The EMP is designed to address preparedness and response activities, while the BCP addresses measures for ensuring continuity of operations after emergencies occur.


Emergency: A disruption to normal operations which requires prompt or immediate action to protect life, property, or the environment, and/or to restore normal operations.

Essential Personnel: Essential employees are those designated by their department heads as essential to the continued performance of their departments for the protection of University assets during an emergency. Essential employees will be required to report to their designated work site (on or off campus) even when the University has issued a controlled access status due to adverse conditions. Essential personnel are comprised of two categories:

Category 1: Executive Control Team members; Advisory Call personnel as listed in the EMP; Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) personnel; Facilities, Planning, and Engineering personnel; The University of Texas Police - Houston (UT Police); Information Technology personnel; Office of Public Affairs personnel; Auxiliary Enterprises Maintenance staff; and Animal Care personnel.

Category 2: Departmental personnel who will be the last to leave their area during an evacuation, and the first to reenter when the facility is cleared; employees required to sustain clinical operations; and other personnel as designated by the department head. Category 2 personnel are responsible for securing property (e.g., controlled substances, perishables, turning off equipment, covering sensitive property) prior to evacuation.

Controlled access: A state of limited access to University facilities declared by the Executive Control Team during which access controls will be implemented so that only authorized University personnel may gain access to institutional buildings.  All personnel will be required to enter the facility using their institutional identification badges. 

Emergency Lockdown: A state of limited access to University facilities declared by the Chief of UTP-H where all exterior badge access to a facility is limited to emergency and/or any necessary Category 1 support teams.  In this scenario, personnel may gain access to facilities based on safety or security related conditions within the facility and need to follow any established procedures including signing in and out at the designated check points.

Executive Control Team: Team of executive administrators with institutional authority in times of emergencies. Members of the team include the President, Senior Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, Senior Vice President, Finance and Business Services & Chief Financial Officer, Executive Vice President & Chief Academic Officer, Vice President of Facilities, Planning, and Engineering, Vice President of Safety, Health, Environment, and Risk Management, and the Chief of UTP-H.

UTHealth Alert: A text-based communication system utilized by UTP-H for security related emergencies and by Safety, Health, Environment and Risk Management (SHERM) for weather related emergencies.  Public Affairs will serve as a backup for the UTHealth Alert system on behalf of UTP-H and/or SHERM when necessary.


A. Roles and Responsibilities in Emergency Management and Business Continuity

EH&S shall develop and maintain the institutional EMP. The EMP shall be updated at least annually.

Finance and Administration, in conjunction with EH&S, shall develop and maintain the BCP. The BCP shall be updated at least annually.

Information Technology (IT) shall develop and maintain a dedicated Information Technology Disaster Recovery Plan. 

Public Affairs will maintain and update the institutional emergency communication website and other forms of emergency communication capabilities (e.g., email, phone lines, social media and media).

UT Police remains responsible for security and law enforcement procedures during an emergency. All institutional emergencies shall be immediately reported to UT Police.

A drill to test the EMP and BCP shall be conducted at least annually.

It is the responsibility of the President, in consultation with the Executive Control Team, to activate a controlled access condition. Access controls will be implemented. Under certain circumstances, only Category 1 essential personnel will be granted unescorted access to University facilities during periods of controlled access. Other individuals may be granted entry into the University on a case by case basis. These individuals must check in and out at designated check points.

Ride out teams may be necessary for certain emergencies, for example during hurricanes, to help protect and/or minimize damage to University property and to ensure continuity of business.  Ride out teams will consist of designated essential personnel who will either physically remain on campus or be stationed in a remote setting to provide service throughout the emergency event.  See EMP.  Necessary accommodations for ride out team members to effectively perform their jobs should be made in advance of the emergency event.

All departments are required to develop and maintain a written departmental emergency management plan and business continuity plan to address the department’s specific needs outside of the context of the larger University plans. Departmental plans shall be reviewed and updated as necessary or at least annually. Guidelines for developing departmental emergency management plans can be located on EH&S’ emergency procedures webpage, while BCP worksheets can be found on the Risk Management & Insurance webpage in the last section of the page. Departmental plans must be consistent with the University EMP and BCP and shall not conflict with University plans.

The University will comply with all local, state and federal mandates and orders during emergencies such as mandatory evacuations. The University EMP shall be consistent with the National Incident Management System. The Incident Command System (as defined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency) shall be used as necessary during emergency situations.

All employees are required to familiarize themselves with their roles and responsibilities during an emergency.

B. Notifications

Timely information regarding campus emergencies are made available to the University community through various means.  The institution will, without delay, and taking into account the safety of the University community, determine the content of the notification.  The University will then initiate the notification system, unless issuing a notification will, in the professional judgment of responsible authorities, compromise efforts to assist a victim or to contain, respond to or otherwise mitigate the emergency.

For more information on campus security incidents, see HOOP 2, Campus Security.

The Office of Public Affairs communicates emergency information on the UTHealth Emergency Information Website, the Emergency Information Phone Lines (713-500-9996, 713-500-7999 and 866-237-0107), building lobby screens and the University’s social media accounts.  SHERM, UTP-H or Facilities, Planning and Engineering (FPE) will be responsible for utilizing the buildings’ fire alarm public announcement systems or megaphones as necessary to communicate emergency information. 

In the event of an imminent threat, Executive Control Team approval is not necessary for UTP-H, SHERM or Public Affairs to send a campus wide text message. 

Note: The University of Texas Harris County Psychiatric Center (UTHCPC) has additional policies on emergency measures. Please consult UTHCPC administration with questions as to emergency measures and policies at UTHCPC.


    • Environmental Health & Safety
    • 713-500-8100
    • Finance and Business Services
    • 713-500-4952