Emergency Management Program


Cornell’s emergency management program is based on the framework of the four phases of emergency management: prevention-mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. All phases are highly interconnected; that is, each phase influences the other three phases. The cycle as a whole is an ongoing process, just as the plan is a dynamic document that requires continuous updating.

Cornell’s emergency management program is outlined in the following documents:


The first phase in emergency management is Prevention-Mitigation.  Prevention is the action taken to decrease the likelihood that an event or crisis will occur.  Mitigation is the action taken to eliminate or reduce the loss of life and property damage related to an event or crisis, particularly those that cannot be prevented.

The hazards the University is seeking to prevent, diminish, or mitigate are defined specifically through a process of hazards identification and risk assessment.  In the assessment, campus representatives and community partners identified virtually all the hazards that could cause risks and subsequently a crisis.

Cornell has a variety of Prevention-Mitigation programs including:


Preparedness takes the form of plans or procedures designed to save lives and to minimize damage when an emergency occurs. Planning, training, and exercising are the essential elements of preparedness. These activities ensure that when a disaster strikes, emergency personnel will be able to provide the best response possible.

Preparedness is not limited to the emergency response community.  You should take steps to ensure that you are personally prepared for emergencies and disasters, both at work and home.  See the EHS Personal Preparedness web page for more information.

The Preparedness phase designs strategies, processes, and protocols to prepare the University for potential emergencies. Preparedness activities may include:

  • Establishing an incident command system (ICS) consistent with the National Incident Management System (NIMS) for organizing personnel and services to respond in the event of an emergency.
  • Developing all-hazard policies, procedures, and protocols with input from key community partners such as law enforcement, medical services, public health, fire services, and mental health.
  • Collaborating with community partners to establish mutual aid agreements that will establish formal interdisciplinary, intergovernmental, and interagency relationships among all the community partners and campus departments.
  • Negotiating contracts that will provide the campus with resources (e.g., food, transportation, medical services, and volunteers) needed during an emergency.
  • Assigning personnel to manage each ICS function and defining lines of succession in emergency plan as to who is in charge when key leaders are not available.


Cornell University maintains a variety of emergency response programs and capabilities, all designed to support the campus community during times of crisis.  The Cornell University Emergency Operations Plan provides the framework by which Cornell University will respond to and manage emergency incidents affecting the Cornell University Ithaca Campus.

The primary objectives of Emergency Operations Plan are to apply University and community resources to:

  • Preserve of human life
  • Protect University research including animals and plants
  • Protect University property and structures
  • Protect the environment
  • Facilitate continuity of academic and business operations

First responders from Cornell Police and Cornell Environmental Health and Safety are available at all times to respond to emergencies on the Cornell campus.  Report on-campus emergencies by calling 911 from an on campus telephone or (607)255-1111 from a cellular or off-campus telephone.  You can also use any outdoor Blue Light phone (situated throughout campus) or indoor designated emergency phone to report a campus emergency. Just pick up the receiver or press the call button.


Continuity of Operations is an effort within colleges and departments to ensure that Essential Functions continue to be performed during and after a wide range of emergencies, including localized acts of nature, accidents and related emergencies. In order to achieve that goal, units must identify their Essential Functions and develop plans that allow those functions to be continued throughout, or resumed rapidly after, a disruption of normal activities.

Recovery is an ongoing process. The type and breadth of recovery activities will vary based on the nature and scope of the emergency. However, the goal of the recovery phase is to restore the learning environment. Planning for Recovery begins in the Preparedness phase, and requires support from campus leaders to ensure that decisions contribute to implementation and resolution of all four components of recovery.

Recovery includes:

  • Physical and Structural Recovery
  • Business Recovery
  • Restoration of the Academic-learning Environment
  • Psychological and Emotional Recovery

The Cornell University C-COOP system has been designed to provide colleges and major administrative units with the tools to create comprehensive, “live” unit recovery plans.   The C-COOP tool focuses on the mission essential functions each unit performs and captures critical information about employees, roles, responsibilities, IT requirements, facilities, and contacts that are needed during the recovery phase.  C-COOP interfaces with the University’s Workday system, the Facilities Inventory System, and the Identity Management System to help ensure that plans contain current information.