Emergency Management

Applies to: All University of Southern California (“USC”) schools and departments, and all members of the USC community (faculty, staff, and students).


Issued: September 15, 2016
Last Revised: September 15, 2016
Last Reviewed: February 16, 2022

2. Policy Purpose

To set forth university protocols, plans and processes to prepare for and respond to unexpected events, such as natural or human-caused disasters. This policy defines emergency response responsibilities to help ensure critical university operations are maintained and restored in a timely manner.

3. Scope and Application

This policy applies at all times, and to all USC schools, departments, and all members of the USC community (e.g., faculty, staff, students, and guests).

4. Definitions

“All-Hazards” Emergency Management ApproachAn integrated approach to emergency preparedness planning that focuses on capacities and capabilities that are critical to preparedness for a full spectrum of emergencies or disasters, including internal emergencies and a man-made emergency (or both) or natural disaster. “All-Hazards” planning provides flexibility to adapt response efforts to the unique needs of all types of emergencies and disasters.
National Incident Management System (“NIMS”)The National Incident Management System (“NIMS”), a program of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”), is a comprehensive approach to incident management that can apply to emergencies of all types and sizes.
Incident Command System (“ICS”)The NIMS model for incident management is the Incident Command System (“ICS”). ICS is a standardized on-scene emergency management organization designed to aid in the management of resources during incidents. The ICS model is used by jurisdictions and agencies, both public and private, to organize field-level incident-management operations.
Emergency Operations Center (“EOC”)Comprised of representatives from the university’s critical response departments and schools who assemble to coordinate the university’s response and recovery efforts during and after emergency events.

5. Policy Details

Emergency Response

USC is committed to maintaining a state of readiness for any type of emergency, including both natural and human-caused disasters. The university’s emergency response protocols and procedures follow a standard “all-hazards” approach, which considers and prepares for various potential threats and hazards and the likelihood they will occur. All schools and departments are required to maintain emergency response plans, conduct emergency response training, and participate in periodic campus-wide emergency exercises as directed by the Office of Fire Safety and Emergency Planning (“FSEP”). Plans must consider and include university personnel located in off-campus locations.

USC also maintains and manages dedicated Emergency Operations Centers (“EOC”) consistent with the National Incident Management System (“NIMS”) model for incident management. EOCs are activated virtually and/or physically on both the University Park and Health Sciences campuses in response to an emergency in order to coordinate response activities.

Business Continuity & Information Technology (“IT”) Disaster Recovery

USC recognizes the need to prepare for unexpected events, such as natural or human-caused disasters, and the need to return normal university operations as quickly as possible. All schools and departments are required to develop and maintain Business Continuity Plans (“BCP”) that describes the unit’s critical operations and how each function will continue or quickly resume after a disaster event. The university’s priority is to restore teaching, research, patient care, and other mission-critical activities in a timely manner.

Additionally, all schools and departments that operate IT systems in support of university business operations, must develop and implement a Disaster Recovery Plan (“DRP”) in conjunction with the BCP. The development and maintenance of BCPs and DPRs are done in collaboration with the Office of Fire Safety and Emergency Planning, and USC Information Technology Services (for DRPs).

All university community members should familiarize themselves with their department or school business continuity and disaster recovery plans, as well as the university’s Emergency Response Operations Plan (available upon request to the Office of Fire Safety & Emergency Planning).

6. Procedures


7. Forms

Please contact the Office of Fire Safety & Emergency Planning (“FSEP”) to request a copy of the USC Emergency Response Operations Plan, and/or for guidance in developing business continuity and disaster recovery plans (including plan templates).

Office of Fire Safety & Emergency Planning:



(213) 740-3962

8. Responsibilities

USC President (or designee)Authority to activate the university’s emergency response plan and may temporarily close university offices and/or cancel classes.
Senior AdministrationOversight of university-wide emergency response planning, policy compliance and plan implementation.
Deans and Vice PresidentsManagement of individual school(s) and/or department(s) business continuity and disaster recovery plans.Leads school/department plan implementation and execution when activated.
School and Department Leadership TeamsDevelops and maintains required business continuity and disaster recovery plans for their individual school(s) and/or department(s).Coordinates with FSEP to internally communicate plans, facilitate regular testing and plan revisions as necessary.
Business Continuity Steering Committee (“BCSC”)Oversees the university’s emergency management, business continuity, and disaster recovery strategy and programs. The Committee is chaired by the Senior Vice President, Administration, and includes representatives from university schools and departments.
Crisis Management TeamComprised of senior administrators who have specialized expertise to provide guidance and oversight for the university’s emergency operations, business continuity and disaster recovery planning and response efforts.
Office of Fire Safety & Emergency Planning (“FSEP”)Develops and manages emergency management policies, and supporting procedures, templates, and trainings.Facilitates emergency and disaster planning and preparation, in conjunction with the university’s Crisis Management Team and the Business Continuity Steering Committee (“BCSC”). This includes regular university-wide plan reviews, updates, and testing.Provides guidance and assistance to schools and departments developing business continuity and disaster recovery plans.Monitors compliance with this policy to ensure required school/department business continuity and disaster recovery plans are developed, maintained, implemented, and regularly tested.Escalates non-compliance issues to the BCSC and/or senior administration for review and response.

9. Related Information

Office of Fire Safety & Emergency Planning:


Emergency Planning Services:


Business Continuity Planning:


USC Information Technology Services:


Business Continuity Management Program Governance:


10. Contacts

Please direct any questions regarding this policy to:

Fire Safety & Emergency Planning (FSEP)(213) 740-3962businesscontinuity@usc.edu