3 - General Principles for All Emergencies


The individual with overall responsibility in an incident is the Director of AR or the Director's designee (e.g., supervisor or animal caretaker). The Director of AR or designee coordinates the overall AR response in an emergency or disaster. Within AR, the ranking representatives of each functional area are responsible for coordinating efforts within their section with the overall AR efforts to deal with the emergency or disaster.

Facilities Covered:

All animal housing areas under management of AR are covered by this plan, whether within the NCNPR Vivarium or on campus. The AR directly manages responses to centrally-operated facilities. Facilities operated by individual investigators with AR oversight are covered under the same principles, but the individual investigators are responsible for coordinating additional resources needed to handle emergencies, as advised by AR and other University units.


In the event of an emergency or disaster, the individual who discovers or is advised of the situation immediately reports the problem to the Head of their Section or immediate supervisor. If that person cannot be contacted, then any Section Head available should be contacted. In an acute emergency endangering human life, staff communicates to each person on site to protect co-workers. In a less acute emergency, the ranking Supervisor takes charge until the threat to human life has been addressed. As soon as possible, the problem is then reported to the Director of AR or the Director's designee, who then determines additional communications. Individuals encountering human life-threatening conditions where time is critical, such as a fire or hazardous materials spill, must immediately notify the unit responsible for handling the emergency (e.g., University Police at 4-911); then they notify their Supervisor or the Director/designee. If the problem arises after normal hours, then the Veterinarian on-call and the Supervisor on-call are notified. In a serious emergency or disaster (e.g., one which endangers the lives of personnel or animals), all Section Heads are contacted. They are informed of the problem, the plan for dealing with it, and their role in responding. If the situation arises after normal work hours, the head of each unit is responsible for mustering additional members of their staffs if they are needed. In the event of an interruption in normal communications, alternate methods (FAX, email, hand delivery of messages) may be employed — see Section 4.8 Phone/Paging System Outage.


Security systems vary between facilities. In the event of an emergency or disaster, these systems may need to be over-ridden temporarily to allow access to response teams. As soon as safe conditions have been established and animal welfare addressed, security will be given a high priority. University Police units are notified if normal animal facility security has been breached and they, along with AR personnel, will formulate a plan to restore or supplement compromised security. This may include posting guards or monitors at facility doors or temporarily closing facilities to non-essential traffic. Changes in security procedures should be posted on facility entrances or animal room doors and communicated to investigators as early as is practical.

Emergency Evacuation:

In the event of an evacuation of an animal facility during working hours (such as due to a fire, hazardous material spill, or other emergency) the following principles apply:

  1. Personnel are not to endanger themselves or others by delaying an ordered evacuation.
  2. Personnel should do their best to alert others as they evacuate the premises.
  3. To the extent they can do so without delaying their evacuation, personnel quickly turn off or shut down equipment as they leave. This avoids creating additional hazards of unattended equipment.
  4. On-site personnel employ their professional judgment for handling animals which are anesthetized, or undergoing surgery or nonsurvival procedures from which they might awaken if left unattended. Animals undergoing surgical procedures can be evacuated (small animals) along with the personnel, or they can be euthanized, or they can be left on anesthesia machines, however, every reasonable effort should be made to ensure animals will not awaken in severe pain and that personnel are not delayed from evacuating the premises promptly.
  5. Each AR section has established a procedure whereby all section members meet at a set location after an evacuation in order to determine that personnel have cleared the facility and to await the all-clear signal to return.