In the unfortunate circumstance you are facing an emergency, Steve Clemens may be the person you most want to have at your side.
Steven Clemens, Western’s emergency management coordinator for the past five years, is taking a similar and newly created position at Fanshawe College. captiontexthere
Beginning this week Clemens takes on the newly created role of supervisor of Fanshawe College’s Emergency Management Office. But for the past five years Clemens was Western’s emergency management coordinator, one of the key staff members responsible for emergency preparedness on campus.
During that time Clemens saw huge change in how seriously organizations prepare for emergencies, not only at Western – now recognized as a national leader – but right across the country.
“It’s how campuses are evolving,” says Clemens.
Western has long been one step ahead of the game. Western has had the emergency coordinator position since 1998, the wisdom of which really highlighted after 9/11 and amendments to the Municipal Act.
Add to that the tragedy at Virginia Tech University, and campus safety and emergency preparedness has moved front and centre for universities and college across North America.
“The Municipal Act and Virginia Tech really boosted it at Western,” says Clemens, noting Director of Campus Police Elgin Austen basically wrote the Council of Ontario Universities standard for campus safety.
“He basically wrote them to exactly what Western is doing and now that’s a standard across Canadian universities. They’re all looking at Western as the model.”
More and more campuses are going the route of creating dedicated roles for emergency preparedness and safety, and Clemens is now taking what he learned at Western to Fanshawe.
“It would be great to create some sort of partnership,” he says. “We’re in the same city, we’re in the same business. We have a lot of the same risks with students so we could even see joint training, joint preparedness, even perhaps as far as joint response.
“The relationship we’re building with Fanshawe is getting stronger, not only in emergency planning, but with policing, so this is just another area we can come together with and use each others strengths.”
While Western’s emergency preparedness model has become the template for other universities, it has required the acceptance of the entire campus community.
“It’s night and day from five years ago,” he says, noting Western has provided training around risk management factors and more than 70 individuals have basic emergency management training.
“We know our partners in response, we know our partners in planning, we’ve been able to host emergency preparedness days. You want to know who’s got it and how to get it when we need it. That’s been the biggest part with this – the relationships. We know people on a first name basis, not only internally, but also externally within the city. It all comes down to being able to work side by side.”
Austen says Clemens has played an integral role at Western.
“Steve has worked with many groups across the university and through his efforts has substantially raised awareness on emergency planning and management,” says Austen. “Western is in a much better position in its emergency management and fire safety programs now than it was when Steve arrived.”
Ann Hutchinson, Director of Media Relations at Western, says Clemens understands the roles all must play in assuring a successful emergency planning policy.
“Steve has a clear understanding of the critical nature of communications in an emergency, and really helped make that a priority in planning,” says Hutchison.
While thrilled with the challenges ahead, Clemens admits he’ll miss the camaraderie and relationships at Western.
“It’s always tough leaving. You get a strong connection with a bunch of people,” he says, adding the word team comes up quite a bit when talking about Western.
“It’s not based on any one particular person, or any one particular item, or one particular technology – it’s based on the people.”