A vital aspect of ASU’s crisis response is “reunification” — the uniting of students with their parents. For example, reunification could be implemented if family members became separated due to an emergency evacuation of a large public venue on campus, such as Sun Devil Stadium. Reunification also may be used if an on-campus incident results in multiple casualties. 

“We know, when faced with a serious incident where ASU community members are hospitalized, families will make their way to campus immediately,” Clark said. “So we have created an organized reunification process with pre-designated locations for families to reunify with or locate their loved ones.” 

ASU’s Help Center, which typically assists students with technical issues or administrative questions 24 hours a day, has a key role in reunification. Center staff, backed up by partner agencies, will capture information provided by callers and attempt to locate their loved ones in area hospitals if their locations are not know to first responders.   

The reunification initiative — born out of an ASU active-shooter exercise in 2011 — was originally built on three pillars, said Deborah Roepke, executive director for the Coyote Crisis Collaborative, an ASU partner and multidisciplinary network that supports robust health-care and other community emergency-management programs. First was the development of a hospital reception-site capacity for all hospitals in Arizona, agreed upon by the Arizona Department of Health Services. Then it was necessary to have community family reunification-center capacity. The final element was emergency call-center capacity. All three elements are now in place.

“I believe ASU is a leader in disaster preparedness,” Roepke said. “ASU is exemplary in terms of its planning, training, structure development, activation process and testing. The concept of locating multiple reunification sites across the Valley is remarkable and should be applauded and copied.

“The leadership involvement and ASU’s investment in its preparedness efforts has been outstanding.”     

Jerry Gonzalez

Assistant Director, Media Relations and Strategic Communications