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Washington State University Office of Emergency Management


 WSU Ready is a COOP tool. COOP is an acronym for Continuance of Operations Planning.  WSU Ready is comprised of three elements:

  • Business and Administrative Continuity-an ongoing process to ensure necessary steps are taken to identify the impact of potential emergencies on the business and administrative functions of the university and developing recovery strategies, recovery plans and the ability to maintain mission critical and essential services and operations during and after the emergency
  • Academic Continuity-the process of planning to ensure undergraduate and graduate education and the student academic progress will continue as well as the ability for faculty to minimize disruptions to or recover from emergency related disruptions of the academic process
  • Research Continuity-the process of mitigation, planning and preparedness to ensure research projects will endure and recover from the affects of emergency situations affecting parts or all of the university


Which of these elements you will focus on and the extent of planning your unit will need to accomplish will depend on your unit’s defined mission within the university and which aspects of your unit’s functions are considered “mission critical and essential” during times of emergency.  Establishing what is mission critical and essential is a process that must engage unit staff, faculty, unit leaders and senior leaders at the division and college administrative levels. Mission-critical or essential operations of a unit are defined as those functions/services/resources that are essential to the University and absolutely must be maintained, protected and continued no matter what type of emergency is currently or recently impacting WSU.


One of the most important aspects of emergency planning and preparedness is determining the functions of your unit that are critical to the operation of the University before, during and after an emergency has taken place.  Those functions that are deemed mission critical to the University will require additional planning and resources dedicated to them so they can be restored to full functionality as quickly as possible when a disaster strikes.  Units working with their College or Division leaders need to analyze thoroughly all aspects of the unit’s operations to determine what is and is not, mission critical.  A unit may want to think they are absolutely vital to the operations of the institution, but a critical analysis to determine true mission critical value is important.  In all emergencies, resources will be limited.  These resources will need to be focused on those operations that are absolutely essential to the operation and recovery of the institution when an emergency situation occurs.  Those units and operations that can shut down until after the emergency is over and normal operations begin again, will save scarce resources for the truly mission critical operations.


Depending on the circumstances, functions that are mission critical may need to be maintained throughout the occurrence of an emergency.  Personnel, supplies and other resources necessary to maintain operations throughout the emergency would need to be in place with appropriate staff training accomplished in advance for this to occur.  An entirely different level of planning is required than that needed for operations that could be restarted after an emergency or those that are not mission critical to the institution. Again, depending on the circumstances, the best response to a pending or active emergency situation for non-mission critical operations may be to close down, send all staff home and resume operations when appropriate.  This contingency requires planning and preparation as well, and involves incorporating Human Resource Services policies and regulations into the plan.  Unit and College/Division administrators will need to consult with the appropriate University Executives and consider personnel and employment issues when decisions regarding closure of a unit, Division or College take place.


Many circumstances affect mission critical determination.  Units that have responsibility for the care of animals will have additional planning and preparations to make.  Unit operations that rely on specific materials and resources will need to determine if supplies of those critical materials can be maintained during crisis situations.  If personnel are required to remain at their posts during an emergency, then appropriate resources need to be dedicated to their safety, comfort and care.  Arrangements to pick up critical staff and transport them to the work site during emergencies may be necessary to ensure appropriate staff can be in place during the crisis.


Identifying any mission critical supplies, materials or resources needed by your unit or units is a crucial step in the planning process as a unit may need to maintain special environmental conditions such as cold, warmth, freezing temperatures or lighting for research or academic projects.  Will you have the resources necessary (such as power generators) to maintain these conditions?  If your unit works with animals, issues such as temperature regulation, food, water, cleaning and care and the needed resources to accomplish these tasks during emergencies must be considered.


Identify mission critical records, files, and other data that your unit maintains and develop your plan for securing these critical records during an emergency.  Additionally, identify how you will restore these records to usability after the crisis.  A key area that needs to be considered is restoring technology operations.  In consultation with IT staff, determine methods to back-up and store electronic records critical to your unit and the University. Also, develop plans and methods for recovering that critical data when an emergency takes place.  Pre-disaster planning for records and other critical information is essential and will make restarting unit operations after a disaster possible.


When an emergency occurs, the normal unit hierarchy may be disrupted.  Directors and other key staff may not be available to take command of the situation.  They may be traveling, on vacation, or the emergency situation may simply prevent them from getting to campus.  It is important to clearly establish an “Order of Succession” in each unit as to who will be in authority in case the normal chain-of-command is broken.  To establish the appropriate level of authority to go with the order of succession, documentation should be prepared in advance making the delegation of authority to those in the order of succession official.


Please take the time to be thorough in regards to developing the information to be included in this plan.  A key goal for WSU when an emergency occurs is to resume operations to normal levels as quickly as possible.  This will require a careful assessment of mission critical functions that may be associated with your unit in consultation with your upper level administration.  This process will establish the unit priorities and set the pattern for the rest of the information requested in this document.

WSU Policies for COOP

WSU BPPM and Executive Policies will assist you in your COOP planning.  Some of the key BPPM and EP are listed below:

50.39 Emergency Planning and Preparedness 

50.40 Suspended Operations 

60.34 Telework Agreements 

60.40 Staffing during Suspended Operations or Emergency Closures 

EP 25 Executive Policy on Emergency Management and Safety Plans