Emergency Management Program


Cornell University’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 individual plans are dynamic documents that require continuous review.

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 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.

The Emergency Support Function (ESF) Annexes to the Emergency Operations Plan detail Cornell’s capabilities and services that can be utilized to respond to, manage, and recover from emergencies and incidents.

Emergency Support Function (ESF) Annexes
1. Transportation 12. Hazardous Materials Response
2. Information Technologies 13. Animal Care
3. Facilities 14a. Utilities: Central Electric & Steam
4. Fire Services 14b. Utilities: Potable Water
5. Emergency Management 14c. Utilities: Central Chilled Water
6. Housing 15. Law Enforcement & Security
7. Dining 16. Community, State & Federal Relations
8. Procurement Services 17a. Communications: Public & Media
9a. Health  Services: Communicable Diseases 17b. Communications: Incident Response
9b. Health Services: Mental Health 18. Personnel Management
10. Emergency Medical Services 19. Student & Community Crisis Support
11. Search and Rescue

Continuity & Recovery

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.

Continuity planning is used to improve university resiliency to academic and operational disruptions.  Effective continuity planning identifies unit essential services and critical resources, and develops strategies for prioritizing and continuing essential services after a disruptive incident.  Continuity planning supports university recovery objectives.  The University Continuity of Operations Plan provides guidance for developing objectives and prioritizing essential services after a disruptive incident.

The University utilizes a continuity planning platform called C-COOP.  This software provides a central location to identify unit essential services and continuity strategies for common disruptive incidents. The C-COOP tool is an effective resource to document recovery priorities and resource needs.  C-COOP facilitates the development of continuity plans by identifying:

  • Personnel – key unit leadership and orders of succession
  • Essential Services – based on impact analysis, identify the unit’s most essential services
  • Essential Resources – identify the unique space, specialized equipment, and technologies necessary to deliver the essential service
  • Continuity Strategies – define essential service continuity strategies for common disruptions