Reporter 409, 3 November 1997

Advice on how not to make a drama out of a disaster

How would the University cope if a fire alarm went off and the Roger Stevens Building had to be evacuated in the middle of an exam? Would the students be segregated to stop them discussing the paper so that the exam could re-start once the emergency was over? Or would the exam be re-scheduled with a new paper, despite the fact that a number of overseas students had already booked their flights home?

These are just some of the questions currently being thrashed out by the Disaster Planning Task Force, under the chairmanship of the Pro-Chancellor Colonel Alan Roberts. Using the dictum ‘better safe than sorry,’ the task force is examining the University’s response to a range of unpredictable events, ranging from power-cuts to fires and even the scenario of an aircraft crashing on campus.

Law lecturer Neil Stanley has been appointed Business Continuity Project Manager to help all parts of the University develop their own continuity or ‘disaster’ planning and draw up plans for the occurrence of less serious incidents. His post has been funded for one year by the University’s insurers AON.

“The function of business continuity planning is to minimise the impact of incidents which cause serious disruptions of the University’s business,” said Mr Stanley. “Business continuity planning is not just about major incidents and it is not solely a management responsibility – it is also intimately concerned with any incident which has the capacity to disrupt the functioning of the University.”

Mr Stanley is planning to visit all departments and other units to discuss in detail the development of continuity plans. He can be contacted on ext 5059 or by e-mail at

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