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IUPUI leadership collaborates on safety exercise to prepare for total solar eclipse

Thousands are expected to travel to Indianapolis to witness the rare astronomical event

Feb 27, 2024

Carlos Garcia, director of planning for Emergency Management and Continuity, leads a scenario-based eclipse safety exercise. Ph... Carlos Garcia, director of planning for Emergency Management and Continuity, leads a scenario-based eclipse safety exercise. Photo by Wendi Chitwood, Indiana University

More than 30 leaders representing units across Indiana University’s Indianapolis campus gathered recently to discuss the total solar eclipse that will occur April 8 and draw thousands of visitors to the area. Cities like Indianapolis that are in the eclipse’s path of totality will experience up to four minutes of darkness as the moon passes in front of the sun.

A full weekend of events is planned to celebrate the astronomical phenomenon, and all in-person classes at IU have been canceled. The influx of visitors expected to flood the state’s capital should make for an exciting environment, but it can also pose health and safety risks.

In preparation, IU Public Safety’s Emergency Management and Continuity team has led several scenario-based exercises to emphasize coordination in response to potential crises during what will be one of the largest special events in the state.

“We offer scenario-based presentations that are designed to create discussion, identify potential problems and solutions, and help campus leaders coordinate to make the best decisions they can during an emergency,” said Carlos Garcia, director of planning for Emergency Management and Continuity, who facilitated the discussion.

IUPD Indianapolis Chief Scott Dunning speaks during an eclipse preparedness exercise at IUPUI. Photo by Wendi Chitwood, Indiana... IUPD Indianapolis Chief Scott Dunning speaks during an eclipse preparedness exercise at IUPUI. Photo by Wendi Chitwood, Indiana University

This time, the Indianapolis campus had the opportunity to test its readiness for the eclipse. During the multimedia presentation, Garcia posed questions about how leaders would respond to numerous challenges including a primary concern for the city: traffic congestion. The group talked about contingency plans and the protocols and policies that would come into play.

Jason Spratt, associate vice chancellor and dean of students, emphasized the importance of making faculty, staff and students aware in advance of the need to plan ahead for the extra travel time needed to get to and from campus.

Scott Dunning, chief of the IU Police Department in Indianapolis, focused on the potential difficulty for emergency vehicles to maneuver through traffic and the need to keep parking available for health care staff who will need to work at medical facilities.

Stacy Blanton, director of dining services, shared plans to increase food order deliveries before the eclipse so dining options will remain available to the campus community if delivery trucks aren’t able to get through gridlocked traffic.

Throughout the discussion, everyone took notes and offered suggestions, and some made plans to meet up later to iron out details. Thinking through how organizations on campus would collaborate and respond to issues is exactly what Garcia was hoping for.

“We all have a common goal of keeping our campus community safe,” Garcia said. “This exercise illustrated that IUPUI’s leadership is ready to coordinate and plan ahead to ensure everyone has an opportunity to enjoy the eclipse safely.”

Get tips on how you can prepare and find out more on eclipse.iu.edu.

Author

IU Newsroom

Mary Keck

Communications Manager, Public Safety

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