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City, UAS to share emergency management

Posted: January 16, 2014 - 1:13am

City leaders advanced a measure Wednesday evening that creates an emergency management position for coordinating emergency services between the City and Borough of Juneau and the University of Alaska Southeast.

The university agreed to pay for the position, and the expectation is the position would be eliminated if the university stopped funding it.

“This way everyone involved with the emergency planning process can be kept up-to-date with response techniques and plans,” Assemblyman Loren Jones said.

Jones is the Assembly liaison to the local Emergency Planning Committee.

“For individuals at the university this is very important,” he added. “They’re housing 400 kids.”

UAS currently has 284 housing units on campus, but a new freshman facility is bringing in another 120 spaces.

Having a coordinated plan for dealing with any disasters or a shooter at the school is important, Jones said.

The campus is planning to get its own security force in the future — although the personnel will not be police officers — and it has several facilities that could be used in large-scale emergencies, UAS Chancellor John Pugh said.

“It just makes a lot of sense to work together on this and have a single, coordinated function,” Pugh told the Assembly Finance Committee.

The university’s facilities are a particularly attractive component of the partnership because presently the city’s only designated emergency center is Centennial Hall downtown, Jones said.

University of Alaska campuses in Fairbanks and Anchorage both have dedicated emergency management personnel, Assemblyman Jerry Nankervis noted during the meeting.

No member of the committee opposed the measure, and city manager Kim Kiefer will now facilitate bringing forth an ordinance, proposing to appropriate university funds to pay for the position, to the full Assembly in the near future.

“It’s a great idea just in the emergency response, dispatch level of things,” Mayor Merrill Sanford said. “There’s no way (the) university is going to have a full fire department or a full police force, at least for a while, but all those things working together would be a good idea for all of us.”

• Contact reporter Matt Woolbright at 523-2243 or at matthew.woolbright@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/reportermatt.

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