Campus succeeds in wildfire disaster drill

Evacuation check-in
CERT member Preston Moser and ROTC cadet Megan Johnson check in freshman Sarah Pelzner during Wednesday's evacuation. Photo by Ian Hand/The Siskiyou

The Ashland Community Emergency Response Team preformed an evacuation drill testing the evacuation of the residence halls in the event of a wildfire last Wednesday.

The drill, designed by Southern Oregon University junior Julia Stouber, was to test how quickly the residence halls could be evacuated in case of a wildfire, as well as how prepared the university is for such an occurrence. This particular drill was a pilot, in that participation by students was voluntary.

The drill involved evacuating students from Forest, Hawthorne and Emerald Halls in the Cascade Complex down to the McNeal Pavilion, as Siskiyou Boulevard acts as an effective fire break.

The crisis management team was headquartered in Churchill Hall, while the Community Emergency Response Team and ROTC teams were headquartered in Cox Hall.

“We run this drill a couple times a year,” said Jim Beaver, SOU’s Director of Interactive Marketing and Media Relations.

In the first hour of the drill the school is on alert, however an evacuation notice has not yet been sent out.

Staff and students are alerted via e-mail, phone call and text message through SOU Alert. SOU’s Campus Public Safety are the first notified, followed by the executive staff including the President and Provost and CERT before the alert is sent out.

“It’s a good idea to know where you can go,” said freshman Sarah Pelzner, who participated in the evacuation.

“I just think there should be another way to alert students who don’t have access to e-mail or a phone at the time of the emergency.”

In addition to a student check in for those evacuated, the health center set up a mock medical center with various scenarios to assess their readiness and supplies in the event of an actual fire. The center had three stations for varying severities of injury as well as an area outside for a morgue.

Students can take a CERT training course and earn 3 credits for it.

For more information, contact Heather Freiheit at 541-552-8152 or e-mail at

To update your SOU Alert contact information, go to



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