When a crisis situation occurs on or near the Tulane University campuses, the Office of Emergency Management steps in. This year the office has a new director, who is calling on everyone on campus — students, staff members and faculty — to do their part in the case of an urgent situation.
"I see my role as more of a coach teaching people the proper response to an emergency situation,” says Norris Yarbrough, the new director of the Office of Emergency Management. (Photo by Ryan Rivet)
“The philosophy I bring to emergency management is that it’s a hands-on thing, and everyone needs to be involved,” says Norris Yarbrough, who brought 30 years of emergency management experience with him when he arrived at Tulane in July. “I need to make everyone emergency managers. We’ve got as many opportunities as there are people on this campus to do the right thing.”
Before Tulane, Yarbrough worked at Ochsner Health Systems, developing the emergency plan for eight hospitals and 35 clinics, a plan Yarbrough says became an example the federal government used as a model across the country. Yarbrough says he will work tirelessly to make sure Tulane will meet or exceed that level of preparedness.
“I’m going around and meeting with different groups around campus,” Yarbrough says. “A lot of success in our program will come from education. That’s something I’m a big believer in. People are going to get tired of seeing me knocking on their door.”
While Yarbrough says there is more to emergency management than just dealing with hurricanes, he concedes that it will certainly be on the minds of many students and parents when the semester begins. He says students and parents need to sit down and come up with a plan before a storm forms in the Atlantic Ocean to take as much of the stress out of the situation as possible. So far, he says he’s happy with the contact he’s had with parents.
“I’ve been getting a steady stream of calls from parents wanting to know what they should do about having a family plan for the kids, and that’s a big part of what I’m going to be doing,” Yarbrough says.
Though he hopes that all the preparations will be unnecessary in the long run.
“My dream is that I work around the clock to prepare for an event that never happens.”