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OIT employees shelter in place during a tornado drill at the Kingston Pike Building.

SafetyEmployees in the university’s Kingston Pike Building held the campus’s first tornado drill yesterday to prepare for the spring storm season. The building houses UT’s Office of Information Technology, a vital resource for the campus.

OIT employees received building-specific training from the campus’s Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) office to learn more about how to react in the case of a tornado.

In emergencies, seconds matter so it’s important to be prepared and to know in advance how you should react. According to the campus’s Office of Emergency Management, drills provide you with the muscle memory that your brain relies on when reacting to trauma.

Brian Gard, emergency manager for the campus, said the drill was a success and he hopes it will lead to a higher level of vigilance among the campus community.

OIT employees shelter in place during a tornado drill at the Kingston Pike Building.

“The support of engaged leadership in OIT and outstanding training provided by Environmental Health and Safety helped the personnel who work in the Kingston Pike Building create a safer work space,” he said.

Suzanne Rimmer, a technical supervisor for EHS, said, “The Emergency Management and Environmental Health and Safety departments are here to help students, staff, and faculty learn to help themselves during emergency situations. Through the safety website, in-house training, and practice drills, our goal is to make you the expert in your own safety.”

Rimmer said she hopes the Kingston Pike Building’s drill will stir interest for other buildings to have drills of their own.

Many OIT employees volunteered to help organize and support the drill, serving on response teams and helping to guide their co-workers to shelter areas. OIT software developer Dick Fischer led the charge to bring the drill to the building, coordinating training through EHS and organizing his co-workers’ efforts. Fischer is the building’s emergency preparedness coordinator.

Emergency preparedness coordinators are volunteers within campus buildings who receive training in basic emergency response and act as liaisons to students, faculty, and staff in case of emergency. Names of coordinators are posted on “Stay Sharp. Be Aware.” posters throughout your building. For more information, visit the emergency preparedness website.

For more tips on how to stay safe in a tornado or other weather emergency, visit