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RMS News and Announcements

RMS ALERT: Kidde Fire Extinguisher Recall

The Kidde Corporation is recalling over 40 million fire extinguishers. Specifically two styles of Kidde disposable fire extinguishers: plastic handle and plastic push-button. This recall does not include Kidde Professional or Badger branded fire extinguishers. Units with metal handles/valve assemblies are not included in the recall. According to the manufacturer

The replacement program was initiated because certain fire extinguishers can become clogged or require excessive force to activate, posing a risk of failure to discharge. In addition, the nozzle can detach with enough force to pose an impact hazard. The product recall involves two styles of Kidde disposable fire extinguishers: plastic handle fire extinguishers and plastic push-button fire extinguishers.

If you feel that you are affected by this recall, please follow these steps:

  • Locate and College the Model Number, Serial Number, and Date Code of your extinguisher. For help identifying this information refer to these documents
  • Contact Kidde at at (855) 271-0773 between 8:30 a.m.. and 5 p.m.. EST Monday-Friday (excluding holidays), or between 9 a.m.. and 3 p.m.. during the weekend to determine whether your extinguishers are affected.
  • Retain your original existing extinguisher until your replacement has been received. Upon receipt, you will be given instructions how to return your recalled unit. 


Auburn University Department of Risk Management and Safety will monitor and address all on-campus fire extinguishers. If you feel that you are in possession of an affected model then please contact Risk Management and Safety at 334-844-4870. 


For additional information and support please refer to Recall FAQ or watch the tutorial video below:


Media Contact:  Kevin Ives, RMS Communications & Marketing  |  334-844-2502  |

Special Firefighter Training Day at Jordan-Hare: Auburn Fire commends RMS for help making game days safer for fans

Auburn Firefighters take aim during safety training at Jordan-HareDespite recent days of dark clouds and heavy rainfall, firefighters with Auburn Fire Division were thankfully met with sunny blue skies for their training at Jordan-Hare Stadium on June 8. It had been a busy night and morning for Auburn firefighters, with more emergency calls than usual, but close to 10 firefighters were on hand for the special fire safety training the division had desired to do for more than a year.

The fire department partnered with Auburn University Risk Management & Safety (RMS) to receive important training on the stadium’s wet and dry fire protection systems, while university contractor Brendle Sprinkler Company and RMS tested the sprinklers at the same time. This testing of the stadium’s dry water fire protection systems happens every five years, a requirement of the National Fire Protection Association.

“This was a once-in-every-five-years opportunity for the fire department to get some hands-on experience on-site, at an outdoor location where they would actually be able to use high-pressure water hoses while training,” said Chris Carmello, RMS Safety & Health Programs manager. “There are important differences between a “wet sprinkler system” and a “dry sprinkler system” that made this training at the stadium more attractive to the fire department.”

Wet sprinkler systems always have water in the pipes, but dry sprinkler systems, such as some of the standpipe systems at the stadium, do not, which means there will be a bit of a lag in the time it takes the water to spread throughout the pipes when charged. There are five fire hydrants around the stadium and two standpipe systems inside the stadium.

The training began on the ground level of the stadium with firefighters and staff with Brendle testing the pressure of the water and releasing any old water standing in the pipes. Firefighters then carried hoses up five flights of stairs to the very top of the stadium where they hooked up to the stadium’s standpipe system and waited for the hose to fill with water.

“It’s invaluable that we have this kind of training where some 80,000 fans could be gathered,” said Jeff Nolin, Auburn Fire Division battalion chief. “We need this kind of muscle memory and the experience of stretching the hoses in a building that we’re actually going to be working in.”

Auburn Fire division doing special fire-safety training at Jordan-HareThe training lasted from 8 a.m. until about noon. The testing allowed both firefighters, RMS and Brendle to find any leaks, breakages or other defects throughout the system.

“These scenarios help us to think about logistics ahead of time, like where we need to have personnel during game days and any situations they might run into trying to get to the fire,” said Deputy Fire Chief Matt Jordan. “If there is a fire, we’re going to have to evacuate people, move people around also.”

The stadium training was the first opportunity the Auburn Fire Division has had to use the “high-rise packs” purchased specifically for the stadium almost two years ago. The division typically has firefighters staged at the stadium during game days, with additional personnel to call-in if need be.

“This time of year, we’re thinking about football season, putting our people in place and just preparing for any new developments – like new constructions that may have gone up that could affect our response times or typical staging areas,” Jordan said.

“It’s our job to prepare for “worst case scenarios.” The university has done a great job making this a safe environment for the university community and the fans. RMS does a great job collaborating with us, inspecting fire extinguishers ahead of time, and managing contractors and vendors. We are always very impressed with their help.”


Media Contact:  Kati Burns, RMS Communications & Marketing  |  334-844-2502  |




The RMI Intern Experience: UGA student intern finds home among Auburn family

Peachtree City, Georgia native Eric Sutliff climbed to the top of Jordan-Hare Stadium at Auburn University. He got “a taste for Auburn” through popular eateries like The Hound, Amsterdam and Coffee Cat, and immersed himself in culture during local music & arts festivals. He volunteered at a food pantry, played guitar in a worship band and found family in a place miles from home.

Eric Sutliff, RMI Intern
Peachtree City, Georgia summer intern Eric Sutliff spent eight weeks with
Auburn University Risk Management & Insurance, learning how risk
touches all facets of higher education.

While Sutliff enjoyed the full Auburn experience, he also spent his eight-weeks on campus immersed in the risk management & insurance realm of study as the first intern for Auburn University’s Risk Management & Safety Department (RMS). A hard sought after intern by other viable internship-seeking entities, Sutliff said he chose to accept the internship with Auburn University because he loved the campus and was impressed with how genuine RMS staff were during his interviews.

“I’ve met tons of great people and made some friends for life in Auburn,” said Sutliff, a junior in the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia. “Everybody, from the community to the RMS staff, have been great, super friendly and willing to help anyone.”

Sutliff’s summer internship was a result of a $5,000 grant awarded to RMS through the Spencer Educational Foundation, the premier organization awarding scholarships and grants in risk management and insurance, and facilitating internship opportunities. The grant stipulated an eight-week internship at 320 hours. Sutliff works Monday through Friday, eight hours per day, just as a full-time employee might. Besides weekly projects with RMS, Sutliff is also tasked with writing a 10-20 page essay on his internship experience for his Risk Management & Insurance Program with the Terry College of Business.

Sutliff always thought he would go into the sciences or engineering field. He had never considered a career in risk management and insurance until a high school graduation party, where the father of one of his friends told him about the field. The father worked as a risk manager for Chick-fil-a headquarters and invited Sutliff to shadow him on the job one day.

“I discovered that risk management and insurance is really just a blending of all the subjects I already loved – science and statistics,” Sutliff said.

Concluding his studies at the University of Georgia, Sutliff will have earned a Bachelor’s of Business Administration, and will have certifications in legal studies and sustainability.

His summer internship with Auburn University RMS was his first taste of risk management and insurance practices in higher education. “I never considered how many different risk areas there are at a large university,” Sutliff said. “I’ve enjoyed getting exposed to these things and learning how they affect the university in a greater sense.

During his internship, Sutliff learned about the many areas that university risk management touches – from athletics and research labs, to museums and dorm rooms. He attended fire extinguisher training classes with members of RMS Fire Safety, performed different environmental and lab safety audits, met with university vendors and learned how to input data into the university’s risk management information system, Origami.

Intern Eric Sutliff with Auburn Fire Division firefighter
Sutliff got the opportunity to work with University Risk Management and
Safety on a number of projects, including one that involved a special
fire-safety training day with the local fire division.

One of his favorite experiences during the internship was a special fire-safety training opportunity between the Auburn Fire Division and RMS at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The university contractor Brendle Sprinkler Company was testing the stadium’s dry sprinkler system for the first time in five years, giving the fire department a unique opportunity to conduct an on-scene fire-fighting scenario at the stadium using their newly purchased high-rise equipment in preparation of the university’s upcoming football season.

“It was fun seeing how the university and the fire department might prepare for a catastrophic event, like a fire during a game, and it was also interesting to learn how RMS partners with the local community and other university units to ensure a safe environment for all,” Sutliff said.

At the University of Georgia, Sutliff is involved with Special Olympics UGA and is a Terry College of Business Ambassador. He is the chair of professional development for his fraternity GAMMA IOTA SIGMA (the international business fraternity for students of insurance, risk management and the actuarial sciences) and is involved with the university ministry, the Wesley Foundation. Sutliff’s time interning with Auburn University RMI, he said, has been helpful in teaching him how to deal with other people on a professional, as well as, relational level in an office setting.

Risk Management Specialist Patrick White, who was the main mentor for Sutliff in RMS, said as the first intern for RMS, Sutliff has set the bar high for future interns.

"Eric's refreshing work-ethic and thoughtful, deliberative attitude have contributed greatly to the advancement of our mission here in Risk Management," White said. "He has been exposed to a vast array of our operations here on campus, and he offers thoughtful questions and possible solutions to better serve each area. Our hope is that Eric can use the knowledge gained in this experience to not only further his career, but also make a meaningful difference in the world of Risk Management."

Sutliff has developed a special interest in the sustainability side of risk management. He will be pursuing a certificate of sustainability. "I've always been interested in the holistic well-being of our planet,” he said. “I think sustainability addresses social justice, economic growth, and environmental stewardship in an attainably realistic manner. My experience with the environmental safety team with Auburn University RMS has shown me applicable ways to address these goals in the risk management industry.”

 “I’m excited to get into the insurance industry and to combine some of the things I have learned with other areas I’m passionate about. The Auburn family is a real thing; people are truly interested in who you are and in helping you. I am very thankful for this, and for how open and inclusive the RMS staff have been. It has been a great hands-on learning experience.”



VCOM-Auburn Inaugural Disaster Drill Day invites emergency response preparedness collaboration between medical students, AU units and local agencies

The scene was completely unexpected.

Dozens of second-year medical students in dark blue scrubs milled around the triage tents and tarps, many with looks of uncertainty on their faces, as disaster “victims” were brought into their areas. The “victims,” played by first-year medical students, all had pre-determined injuries and were in various stages of distress. Suddenly, recalling their training, the second-year medical students sprang into action, pulling from the medical skills many of them had cultivated thus far, mostly from a computer screen or classroom.

Disaster Drill Day banner and VCOM building

The inaugural VCOM-Auburn Disaster Drill Day took place at the back of
VCOM, located on South Donahue Drive.

Such was the atmosphere on April 28 at the inaugural Disaster Drill Day, hosted by the Edward via College of Osteopathic Medicine-Auburn (VCOM) and in collaboration with Auburn University Risk Management & Safety (RMS). Other participants included first responders with the Auburn and Opelika Fire divisions, Auburn University Public Safety and members of the Campus Community Emergency Response Team (CCERT). Through two simulated disaster incidents – including a wreck with hazardous chemical spill and a tornado strike - more than 150 second-year VCOM medical students were evaluated on their emergency response abilities in order to obtain their National Basic Life Support certification.

The participants went into the drill blind, with no clue as to what the disasters would be or of the injuries they would have to know how to treat. The same can be said for real-life mass casualty situations, where every person affected – from local first responders and medical professionals, to universities and community members – must know how to respond in order to survive or save a life.

Though the original purpose of the Disaster Day Drill was to introduce medical students to the realities of a natural or man-made disaster as part of their learning, the overall resulting significance of the event was twofold…


Full-Scale Disaster Preparedness Scenarios Offer Life-Like Learning Environment

Firefighters and first responders with Auburn & Opelika
Fire divisions suited up in HAZMAT gear to train alongside
students during the drill.

Tornados, fires, flooding, active shooters, bomb threats, hazardous chemical spills, civil disturbance… all these, and more, are risk vulnerabilities faced by today’s public/private universities and colleges.

Campus emergencies involving natural disasters and/or man-made crisis are not new developments in the academic environment, but in the last decade, disasters have affected university and college campuses with disturbing frequency, causing not only death and injury, but also monetary losses resulting from classroom disruption and damages to buildings/infrastructure.

The 2007 Virginia Tech massacre claimed the lives of 32 people. In 2009, students were evacuated from a Central Michigan University building following a chemical spill in a lab where one person was injured. Hurricane Irene caused damage and flooding to five east coast universities in 2011, while the April 27 tornado outbreak wreaked havoc on Alabama campuses just five months earlier. A murder/suicide resulted in nine deaths at an Oregon community college in 2015, and in mid-2017, two separate fires caused mass evacuations and damage at Boston University.

Though disasters themselves are common, colleges and universities that practice massive disaster preparedness scenarios involving students, faculty, staff and outside agencies have just become more prevalent. The State University of New York College at Oneonta (SUNY) has been conducting emergency simulations annually for several years, including simulated power failures, heat waves, and suicide and terrorist attacks. According to the Daily Star, SUNY partners with local police and fire agencies and other first responders “to create drills that are as life-like as possible to best prepare students, faculty and staff.”

Though Auburn University has held disaster drills on campus before, this was VCOM-Auburn’s first experience with disaster simulation and training as part of student curriculum. VCOM is a private, non-profit Osteopathic Medical School, with a campus located in Auburn University Research Park. The college has two other campuses – one in Virginia and one in South Carolina – where disaster simulations and training have been familiar annual events since the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings. Disaster simulations give medical students a closer look at how the environment inside a hospital could be impacted during a mass casualty situation and what type of skills would be expected of them.

Bus crash scenario with victims
VCOM-Auburn students in theater paint played "victims"
of the first disaster scenario, a car crash and chemical spill.

The first scenario of VCOM-Auburn’s Disaster Drill Day was a wreck involving university vans and a truck carrying hazardous chemicals, resulting in a hazardous chemical spill. Training alongside VCOM-Auburn students during this first scenario were more than 10 local first responders from Auburn and Opelika Fire divisions, and the East Alabama Medical Clinic EMS. Several of them suited up in HAZMAT gear to survey the scene of the accident, get the chemical spill under control and then venture through a life-like decontamination station.

Nearby, “casualties” of the wreck were delivered to the triage station where medical students began to assess their injuries before having them transported inside the school where three different simulated emergency rooms had been erected. Here, the real challenge for the students began. Assessing the wounded, they were tasked with performing various medical procedures on their patients to include delivering a baby from a “casualty” who went into labor (this was completed on a simulation dummy); properly sewing up a flesh wound; and/or inserting an IV, among others.

Second-year VCOM-Auburn medical student Clayton Lester said the hands-on experience of the drill was eye opening for him. During the first scenario, Lester had the opportunity to apply a suture to a wound and to insert a chest tube on a patient.

“I’ve done medical missions before where I learned how to set up a clinic,” said Lester, who was also a graduate of Auburn University. “But this type of learning, early on in my career, has given me a glimpse of what I might expect to see during a real disaster. It was chaotic, but beneficial training.”

VCOM-Auburn Associate Dean for Simulation and Technology Glenn Nordehn, DO, said there is no perfect drill. “However, this was a great training opportunity for the students to use their skills to improvise as well as problem solve the unexpected,” Nordehn added. “The expectation is for the students to learn how to act and how to manage in a disaster situation.”

Serving as the first joint disaster-training event involving VCOM, Auburn University and outside first responder’s organizations, much went into preparing the most useful and realistic disaster scenarios…

Where University & Local Agency Disaster Preparedness Intersect

Mike Freeman with OA News Reporter
RMS Mike Freeman, pictured with a reporter from the
Opelika-Auburn News, was enlisted to plan the VCOM-
Auburn disaster scenarios.
RMS HAZMAT help students through decon tent

Members of RMS HAZMAT suited up to run the
"decontamination tent" for the first scenario.

Michael Freeman is a 28-year veteran of the environmental health and public safety industries, and has been employed with Auburn University’s RMS Department for more than 10 years. A former member of the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Army, Freeman has worked in fire, EMS and law enforcement. As a member of RMS, Freeman is a certified HAZMAT technician, responsible for HAZMAT management, spill response and transportation, among other things.

In January, VCOM contacted Freeman, who had experience conducting tabletop-type drills and had helped to train local responders on HAZMAT specifics, to ask for his help planning disaster scenarios for the Disaster Drill Day event.

“VCOM needed eight hours of instruction for the event,” Freeman said. “They also had certain components their students needed that I had to work into the scenarios. For example, they needed a HAZMAT component, traumas, a mass casualty situation, decontamination and EMS-type training.”

Around these components, Freeman also determined how best to utilize local first responders and university first responders, to maximize training for all. For example, during the chemical spill portion of the first scenario, other members of RMS trained in HAZMAT management, refreshed their skills by suiting up in personal protective equipment and helping casualties through the decontamination station, while local first responders trained in HAZMAT were responsible for utilizing their skills to contain the spill. In addition, members of Campus CERT - groups of trained individuals who have volunteered to take an active role during campus emergencies - got a refresher in search and rescue procedures as part of the tornado strike scenario later that day.

“This was the first large-scale disaster simulation to be held at VCOM-Auburn and in conjunction with local agencies,” Freeman said. “We could have done this without the local agencies, but it would not have been as realistic. If you do not practice real-life scenarios, you will not be prepared."

Deputy Chief of Auburn Fire Division Matt Jordan said first responders do not get the opportunity every day to train for HAZMAT situations. “It’s good to go through the motions like this, and we’ll go back to the station and talk about what we could have done differently,” Jordan said. “Training like this with the university is a benefit for everyone and is the type of infrastructure we want to set up. We like knowing what our resources are.”

With the Disaster Drill Day event, Jordan said local agencies get to combine their training with the knowledge from Auburn University’s subject matter experts to perfect disaster response.

While the various scenarios were playing out on the ground throughout the day, second-year VCOM-Auburn medical student Mike Brisson had quite a different view from above. A part-time paramedic with EAMC, Brisson not only brought along an ambulance to be used as a prop during the event, but also his personal Phantom III drone, which he used to take pictures of and survey the disaster drill scene from the air.

Brisson, also an Army captain and Black Hawk pilot, said his role of the day was to test how applicable drone footage could be, not only to first responders on a scene, but also to medical student training. Drones have become popular allies to first responders in the last few years, being used to more quickly and efficiently survey accident scenes to provide data.

Students perform medical techniques

Inside the makeshift hospital, second-year VCOM-
Auburn students were tasked with using their
classroom learning to perform medical procedures on
the "victims."

“I can use this drone to get a better view of what type of hazardous materials have spilled,” Brisson said. “A drone can be sent in to survey a scene, like this chemical spill, ahead of first responders. I could see if the truck in the wreck was registered and determine what types of chemicals it was carrying. This type of information all allows first responders to safely prepare for and enter a scene without endangering their lives further.”

While Brisson’s drone provided invaluable footage for first responders to study, it was also broadcast on YouTube for other VCOM-Auburn students and administrators to watch as the events unfolded.

“It’s invaluable experience to offer these types of scenarios,” Brisson said. “From this vantage point, you get familiar with the entire picture of emergency care. To be able to integrate the medical school with community responders is invaluable training.”

Auburn University RMS is currently working on an official Drone Policy for the university as a result of increased drone usage on campus.

VCOM-Auburn marked Disaster Drill Day 2017 as a success and an important learning opportunity, and hopes to make it an annual event the school hosts going forward, possibly expanding involvement to the greater university community in years to come. To see footage of the April 28 event, click here.


Media Contact:  Kati Burns, RMS Communications & Marketing  |  334-844-2502  |


Auburn Fire Department, university units to conduct special fire safety training at Jordan-Hare

AU Fire Department VCOM Drill Day 2017

The Auburn Fire Department recently took part in "Disaster Drill Day,"
an inaugural event hosted by the Edward via College of Osteopathic
Medicine-Auburn Campus and Risk Management & Safety to help train
medical students on life-like disaster scenarios. Firefighters suited up in
HAZMAT gear to train during the chemical spill scenario.

The Auburn Fire Department will conduct a training exercise at Jordan-Hare Stadium this summer that will have long-term benefits for not only local firefighters, first responders and the university community as a whole, but future game-day fans as well.

On Thursday, June 8, between 10 and 15 Auburn firefighters will hook up firehoses to pressurized pipes at different connection points around the stadium to conduct firefighting scenarios. The training will take place from 8 a.m. to noon, and several sidewalks around the stadium will be closed during this time, due to water that will be released from the hoses. The sidewalks on the east side of the stadium near the Tiger Transit bus stops and the Student Center will be closed, as well as the sidewalks on the west side of the stadium on Donahue Drive. Ongoing summer construction projects around the stadium will also be a factor, so anyone entering the area during this time is required to follow proper safety precautions by wearing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as a hard hat, safety glasses and steel-toed or sturdy shoes.

The firefighter-training event was scheduled in conjunction with testing of the stadium’s sprinkler system, to be performed by university contractor Brendle Sprinkler Company. According to the Auburn University Risk Management & Safety Department’s (RMS) Safety & Health Programs Manager Chris Carmello, the university is required by the National Fire Protection Association to test dry sprinkler systems every five years.

“It was time for us to test the system at Jordan-Hare, and the fire department had already asked if they could come get some training at the stadium if we ever charged the pipes with water,” Carmello said. “This is not a safety issue; that’s not why we’re doing this. This is simply a once-in-every-five-years opportunity for the fire department to get some hands-on experience on-site, at an outdoor location where they’ll actually be able to use high-pressure water hoses while training.”

According to Carmello, there are important differences between a “wet sprinkler system” and a “dry sprinkler system” that made this training at the stadium more attractive to the fire department. Wet sprinkler systems always have water in the pipes, but dry sprinkler systems, such as those at the stadium, do not, which means there will be a bit of a lag in the time it takes the water to spread throughout the pipes when charged.

“This training will give the fire department a better idea of how quickly the water can get to where it needs to be in the event of an emergency at the stadium,” Carmello said.

In addition, unique factors during the training will present some challenges to the firefighters. For example, there are three connection points around the stadium that will be utilized for training – one on the east side of the stadium and two on the west side. The connection on the east side requires a different type of connection, so the firefighters will be challenged to run a different type of hose.

Carmello said this entire scenario would be a troubleshooting opportunity for everyone involved. “The fire department will get to troubleshoot what kind of issues they might be presented with during the event of a real emergency at a very high profile facility. Our contractor, Brendle, will be able to look for leaks or any weaknesses in the pipes, and, based off these results, RMS will be that much more prepared and able to address issues that could arise during game days. This entire effort ensures the safety of our game days and our game day fans.”

Several university departments and units worked with the fire department to make this training possible, including Risk Management & Safety, Auburn University Athletics, Facilities Management and Auburn University Public Safety.


Media Contact:  Kati Burns, RMS Communications & Marketing  |  334-844-2502  |


Media Coverage: Inaugural VCOM Disaster Drill Day

On Friday, April  28, Auburn University’s Risk Management & Safety (RMS), several other campus units and local first-responder agencies from the community, took part in the university’s first ever Disaster Drill Day, hosted by the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine-Auburn, or VCOM.

“Disaster Drill Day” was an emergency response training and disaster simulation event specifically for second-year VCOM medical students, who were evaluated that day by VCOM faculty on their ability to respond and triage casualties. More than 150 second-year students participated as part of evaluation, while another 100 students played the roles of “casualties” or other necessary characters.

To see photos of the event, visit @AuburnRMS on Twitter or search for the hashtag #VCOMDisasterDrill. Several members of the media covered the event extensively including the Opelika-Auburn News and WSFA 12 News of Montgomery. See the full stories below.

Inaugural Disaster Day prepares responders, students for worst, Opelika-Auburn News

Disaster Drill helps first responders, students in Auburn, WSFA 12



Risk Management & Safety, other AU units to participate in VCOM Disaster Simulation & Training Day

On Friday, April  28, Auburn University’s Risk Management & Safety (RMS), several other campus units and local first-responder agencies from the community, will take part in the university’s first ever Disaster Day, hosted by the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine-Auburn, or VCOM.

“Disaster Day” is an emergency response training and disaster simulation event specifically for second-year VCOM medical students, who will be evaluated that day by VCOM faculty on their ability to respond and triage casualties. More than 150 second-year students will be participating as part of evaluation, while another 100 students will play the roles of “casualties” or other necessary characters.

VCOM Disaster Day is Friday, April 28


Members of the media are invited to attend. Interviews
available throughout the
day. For inquiries, contact Kati Burns at 334-844-2502


Disaster Day will take place on the VCOM campus at 910 South Donahue Drive, and VCOM classes will be suspended that day as most faculty, staff and students will be participating in the event. Other university units participating will include Auburn University RMS, Auburn University Public Safety, Auburn University ROTC and members of the Auburn University Campus Community Emergency Response Team or Campus CERT. In addition, a few local agencies will also participate, including the Auburn and Opelika Fire Divisions, and the East Alabama Medical Center EMS.

The first disaster simulation of the day will begin at 8:30 a.m., followed by the second disaster scenario beginning at 1:30 p.m. The event is for VCOM faculty, staff and students only, and participating Auburn University units. It is not open to the public.

Though this is the first Disaster Day hosted at the Auburn University campus, this is not VCOM’s first experience with disaster simulation and training as part of student curriculum. The college has two other campuses – one in Virginia and one in South Carolina – where disaster simulations and training are familiar annual events.  VCOM students complete online learning modules and then put them into practice during Disaster Day.  Disaster simulations give students a closer look at how the environment inside a hospital would be impacted during a mass casualty situation and what type of skills would be expected of them. Upon completion of the modules and Disaster Day, students will receive a Basic Disaster Life Support Certification, or BDLS.

RMS Environmental Health and Safety Technician Michael Freeman planned and formed the disaster scenarios for the event, based off input from VCOM. Freeman, who was a member of the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Army, and has worked for fire, EMS and law enforcement in the past, said this is the first full-scale disaster simulation the university has had on campus since he arrived in 2006.

“We’ve conducted table-top type drills with Public Safety in the past, and I have helped train the Fire Department on HAZMAT specifics, but this is the first disaster simulation to be held on campus and in conjunction with local agencies,” Freeman said. “We could have done this without the local agencies, but it would not have been as realistic. If you do not practice real-life scenarios, you will not be prepared."

"This disaster simulation training allows our local agencies, university first responders and VCOM students to better understand our individual roles and what we may have to deal with together during a live situation." - Mike Freeman, RMS Environmental Health & Safety Tech

Freeman said VCOM’s Disaster Day will be good not only for those students participating, but for the surrounding communities as well. “This simulation teaches university first responders AND local responding agencies how to work together during the event of a possible disaster,” Freeman said. “The students can also take the skills they’ve learned back out into the communities that they will be working in. This is a multi-layered approach, and we are so appreciative of those local agencies who have made time in their very important schedules to help.”

Local agencies will be involved in the first scenario taking place at 8:30 a.m., while Campus CERT will play a bigger role in the second scenario at 1:30 p.m.

Freeman and VCOM’s Dr. JJ White will appear on WANI 98.7’s Auburn-Opelika This Morning Show on Thursday, April 27, at 8:35 a.m. to talk about Disaster Day. Follow @AURMS to see the live tweets from Disaster Day on April 28.

Managing Cybersecurity in Higher Education

From United Educators, March 30, 2017 - Ever-evolving cybersecurity attacks constantly threaten higher education institutions. Last year, the education sector moved from third to second—tied with business—in the number of breaches by industry, with health care in the No. 1 spot, according to Symantec’s 2016 Internet Security Threat Report. The EDUCASE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR) found 562 reported data breaches at 324 higher education institutions between 2005 and 2014. Those breaches represent about 15.5 million records.

Breaches and their aftermath are costly... Higher education institutions possess massive amounts of data, including personal information about students, faculty, staff, and donors, making them tempting targets for hackers and other digital criminals...

Discussed in this article:

  • Security measures higher education institutions are taking
  • Definition of the "Human Factor" some institutions are using to train their communities
  • Outreach beyond just campus
  • Tips for preventing breaches


Continue reading the full story on Cybersecurity in Higher Education.



Auburn RMS Campus Fire Safety video named a “Pearls of Wisdom” contest winner


Auburn University’s Risk Management & Safety Department (RMS) was recently named a winner in the United Educators (UE) 30th Anniversary “Pearls of Wisdom” video contest.

Member institutions of the UE were tasked in late 2016 with highlighting through a short video the innovative ways they have successfully reduced liability exposures on their campuses. Videos were judged on creativity and universal impact, or rather, their potential to teach others how to promote safer communities at their own institutions. Winners of the video contest received a $3,000 prize.

The winning video submitted by RMS featured the university’s first annual Campus Fire Safety Month campaign, part of a national awareness initiative created by the Center for Campus Fire Safety and recognized annually throughout the month of September. The video showed scenes from the department’s four-week series of fire safety activities, which included: A mock firefighter training obstacle course with the City of Auburn Fire Department; fire extinguisher training; informational campus booths; and a speech/documentary film screening given by Alvaro Llanos and Shawn Simons, two survivors of the 2000 Seton Hall University dormitory fire.

Photos and snippets of videos shot on staff members’ smartphones were pieced together using Windows Movie Maker to form the more than six-minute final video, and RMS Safety & Health Programs Manager Chris Carmello was the voice behind the narration.

AU Campus Fire Safety Month bannerAccording to Safety & Health Specialist Jon Haney, who led planning for Auburn’s Campus Fire Safety Month, most college students living on their own for the first time have not had fire safety education since elementary school, and the goal of the campaign was to reach as many students as possible.

“Unfortunately, students do not always realize how quickly a fire can occur,” Haney said. “Our job is to educate them and the campus community, to provide them with the tools they need to prevent fires from happening. Every individual has to take responsibility for fire safety.”

Haney thanked RMS Executive Director Christine Eick, Associate Director Chris O’Gwynn and Carmello for putting together the video and for their support, along with other members of RMS and the students for participating and making the campaign a success. “It’s truly an honor to receive this recognition,” Haney said. “A year’s worth of planning went into making this awareness campaign happen, and to have it recognized in our first year just reiterates that we’re headed in the right direction.”

Planning for the 2017 Auburn University Campus Fire Safety Month is already underway. To see Risk Management & Safety’s winning Campus Fire Safety video, click here. Other winners of the UE “Pearls of Wisdom” video contest included Gonzaga University’s four-minute video on managing risks presented by campus activities and events.

Media Contact: Kati Burns, RMS Communications & Marketing Specialist  |  334-844-2502  |

Parkerson Mill Creek cleanup lends evidence to importance of keeping campus streams litter-free

“Out-of-sight, out-of-mind” – this might be the best way to describe parts of Parkerson Mill Creek, one of Auburn’s natural resources, hidden by brush, discreetly meandering past the soccer, baseball and football fields and the Intramural Fieldhouse on the Auburn campus. Of course, this might also be the best way to describe the numerous amounts of campus litter that finds a way into the creek, tucked away beneath rocks in the slow-moving water of the creek bed and underbrush on the muddy banks…

Many of the university community walk past Parkerson Mill Creek on a daily basis, in a rush to get to one appointment or another, perhaps vaguely aware of its existence but unaware of the vital role it - and other small waterways just like it – plays in the sustainability of our precious drinking water resources.

This is the main reason Auburn University Risk Management & Safety’s Environmental Health and Safety Department annually hosts an on-campus cleanup of Parkerson Mill Creek for faculty, staff and students. RMS Environmental Health and Safety Technician Michael Freeman has been leading the event for almost 10 years now and has had a longtime passion for maintaining the earth’s water quality.

This year, less than 20 members of the campus community gathered on Tuesday, Feb. 28, and, wearing protective gloves and rubber boots, spent several hours filling more than eight sturdy garbage bags of litter gathered from Parkerson Mill. The clean-up area stretched from the Auburn Wellness Kitchen to the Jane B. Morrison Field. University units typically taking part in the cleanup include Navy ROTC., U.S. Coast Guard AUP, Alabama Water Watch, College of Agriculture, College of Engineering, Greek Life, Honors College, COSAM, Office of Sustainability and AU Facilities Management, among others.

“I just want to see more people on campus interested in this,” said Freeman, who was also a member of the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Army. “Parkerson Mill Creek is listed as impaired by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for pathogens and sediment load. I feel that it is our duty and obligation to not only clean up the creek, but to also make people aware of the litter that ends up in our waterways from poor management of solid waste.”

“Clean water is a vital component of life, and we must be better stewards of this most precious natural resource.”


Unknown to many, streams play a critical role in providing clean drinking water by ensuring a continuous flow of water to surface waters and by helping to recharge underground aquifers. According to the EPA, approximately 117 million people – one in three Americans – get drinking water from public systems that rely on these streams.

The Parkerson Mill Creek clean-up volunteers collected a number of interesting things from the banks and water that day, including orange and blue pom-poms with their ribbons embedded into the creek underbrush; sunglasses; a decorative eyeball; household cleaning instruments; Styrofoam; and a bale of rusty barbed wire.

Thomas Loxley, a Kentucky native and second-year Auburn graduate student in Biosystems Engineering, was among the volunteers and said, though he had helped with roadway clean-ups in the past, this was his first creek clean up. “I think this is a much bigger deal, and I wish more students would get involved,” Loxley said. “Litter in the water travels further and can have a greater negative impact. This is also a great way to give back to the campus.”

The next creek clean-up event will take place November 2017. For more information about Auburn University creek clean-ups, or to see how you can get involved, contact Michael Freeman at


Mike Freeman
Clean-up host Mike Freeman
finds a bale of rusty barbed wire in
Parkerson Mill Creek.


Student volunteer
Biosystems Engineering grad student volunteer Thomas Loxley looks for litter along the Parkerson Mill Creek.

Thomas Loxley, student



Group volunteers  

Thomas Loxley makes an odd find while gathering litter from Parkerson Mill Creek.

  Volunteers included members of RMS, the Office of Sustainability, Facilities Management and Auburn students.  


Media Contact: Kati Burns, RMS Communications & Marketing Specialist  |  334-844-2502  |