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IU Bloomington leaders conduct safety exercise to prepare for solar eclipse

Area population could triple or quadruple with visitors arriving in the path of totality for cosmic phenomenon

Mar 5, 2024

Carlos Garcia, director of planning for IU Public Safety's Emergency Management and Continuity, leads a scenario-based eclipse safety... Carlos Garcia, director of planning for IU Public Safety's Emergency Management and Continuity, leads a scenario-based eclipse safety exercise. Photo by Chris Meyer, Indiana University.

Leaders representing departments across Indiana University Bloomington recently met to discuss how they would respond to an astronomical phenomenon. Their focus was the total solar eclipse that will occur April 8 and the challenges that may arise when 300,000 to 400,000 visitors come to the area for an event that hasn’t occurred in the state in over 150 years.

The influx of visitors poses potential health and safety risks, including high traffic volume, which could hinder emergency vehicles or stall deliveries. Increased calls to the 911 dispatch center and potential challenges with Wi-Fi and cellular network connectivity are also anticipated.

To test IU Bloomington’s readiness for these and other challenges, IU Public Safety’s Emergency Management and Continuity team held a scenario-based preparedness exercise to improve coordination and strengthen response if a crisis occurs.

Led by Carlos Garcia, director of planning for IU Emergency Management and Continuity, the exercise brought representatives together from the IU Police Department and the Office of Student Life, as well as athletics, dining, housing, communications, facilities, parking and other departments.

“This is one of several exercises we’ve held with internal and external partners to ensure the health, safety and welfare of the university’s students, faculty, staff and visitors,” Garcia said. “Our purpose is to test contingency plans and think through the protocols and policies in place to respond to potential challenges.”

IUPD Deputy Chief Shannon Bunger talks about safety plans. Photo by Chris Meyer, Indiana University IUPD Deputy Chief Shannon Bunger talks about safety plans. Photo by Chris Meyer, Indiana University

IUPD said that officers would be using motorcycles, bicycles and golf carts to maneuver around campus, due to the large crowds and heavy traffic expected. Emergency management officials shared plans to make three first-aid and information stations and more than 100 portable toilets available throughout campus on April 8 for those attending the Hoosier Cosmic Celebration and other events at IU Bloomington.

IU Dining and Hospitality focused on its plans to have food delivered in advance and to stock up on nonperishable items to ensure there will be options for on-campus dining even if delivery trucks can’t get through to campus. Office of Parking Operations representatives addressed the importance of having spaces available in garages for staff required to work on campus.

As each group discussed its plans, leaders took notes, offered ideas and arranged to follow up with one another to talk through specific details to increased preparedness for the busy eclipse weekend.

“IU Bloomington is ready for everyone to enjoy the eclipse safely,” Garcia said. “We’re prepared to make the best decisions possible if we run into issues thanks to the abundance of collaboration and advance planning in place.”

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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