Anyone who handles chemicals at Columbia knows that EH&S is equipped to respond to the vast majority of chemical incidents that one would expect to encounter in the laboratory, but additional preparation is also required for emergencies of greater magnitude where response by NYPD (New York City Police Department) or FDNY (Fire Department of New York City) would be needed. NYPD, along with FDNY, play a primary role in the Citywide Incident Command System and would serve as a primary responder in the event of a chemical emergency in NYC.
As a research institution where chemical use is ubiquitous and hazardous waste from such use is generated, Columbia must prepare a plan to minimize hazards to human health and the environment resulting from fires, explosions or any unplanned or sudden release of hazardous waste to air, soil or surface water. As part of Columbia’s on-going preparedness and response efforts, EH&S, in partnership with the Department of Public Safety and the Radiation Safety Office, hosted emergency response site familiarization tours on the CUMC and Morningside campuses for NYPD on February 20th. More than 20 of New York City’s Finest, from local precincts, Special Operations Division, Emergency Services Unit-Hazardous Materials/WMD Response Team and Counter Terrorism Division, had an opportunity to meet and familiarize themselves with members of Columbia’s Emergency Management Operations Team and its response capabilities, as well a gain a greater appreciation for Columbia University’s chemical response coordination. Columbia also regularly conducts similar drills with FDNY, in order to familiarize firefighters with the complex geography and operations of the many CU campuses.
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