Group 4 Crisis Communication Plan for NW-SCC


Created 7/27/12






Crisis Team Members

President, Dr. Humphrey Lee

Vice President of Instruction, Dr. Glenda Colagross

Public Information Officer, Trent Randolph

Associate Dean, Charles Taylor

Associate Dean, Dr. Timmy James

Campus Safety Officer, Doug Hargett

Assistant Dean, John Macintosh

Assistant Dean, Rose Jones

Chief Financial Officer, Paul Merrill

Head of Campus Emergency Medical Services, Mark Simpson

Building Coordinator, Tim Inman

Letter from Dr. Humphrey Lee (President, Northwest-Shoals Community College):

On behalf of administration, faculty and staff we are moving in a direction of new technologies and innovations to maintain and enhance the quality of education for the communities within the Shoals Area as well as Northwest Alabama. NW-SCC constantly seeks to provide you with a superior education by the most convenient and affordable means possible.

We are also committed to the safety and security of students, faculty, staff and visitors on our campus. Our Crisis Communications Plan is the college’s official emergency communications plan.  We support the plan and commit the college’s resources to ongoing training and exercises to keep the plan up to date.  Clear communication within the college and emergency management officials is essential.

Planning, preparation, and training will help administration, faculty, and staff learn the proper course of action in an emergency.  This manual will provide step-by-step guidelines to help manage emergencies that may occur.  This manual cannot foresee all possible circumstances of an emergency, but will cover as much as it possibly can.  Faculty and staff must be prepared to evaluate all the circumstances and make sound judgments based on the situation.  All employees will receive annual training.

Remember, we are here to serve you, because you are our top priority!


Dr. Humphrey Lee

Crisis Team

Dr. Humphrey LeePresident

Primary Spokesperson

  Phone numbers omitted
Dr. Glenda ColagrossVice President of Instruction

Incident Commander- Shoals Campus

Phone numbers omitted
Charles TaylorAssociate Dean

Incident Commander- Phil Campbell Campus

Phone numbers omitted
Trent RandolphPublic Relations Manager, Public Information Officer

All Communications, Secondary Spokesperson

Phone numbers omitted
Teresa HarrisonPresident’s Secretary


Phone numbers omitted
Paul MerrillChief Financial Officer

Command Center Operations, Fourth Spokesperson

Phone numbers omitted
Tammy GreshamChief Financial Secretary


Phone numbers omitted
Lavon DuboisStaff Member- Phil Campbell Campus

Faculty/Staff  Supervision

Phone numbers omitted
Kristi PhillipsStaff Member- Shoals Campus

Faculty/Staff Supervision

Phone numbers omitted
Dr. Timmy JamesAssociate Dean- Phil Campbell Campus

Student Supervision

Phone numbers omitted
Rose JonesAssociate Dean- Shoals Campus

Student Supervision

Phone numbers omitted
Bob EnglandWilderness First Responder

Search and Rescue

Phone numbers omitted
Doug HargettCampus Safety Officer


Phone numbers omitted
Tim InmanMaintenance Supervisor

Building Coordinator

Phone numbers omitted
John MacintoshAssistant Dean

Liaison to extended agencies

   Phone numbers      omitted
Mark SimpsonHead of Emergency Medical Services Medical/First Aid  Phone numbers omitted
Tom CarterTertiary Spokesperson  


Emergency Contacts

Muscle Shoals Police Department   256-383-6746
Phil Campbell Police Department 205-993-5313
Colbert County Sheriff’s Department 256-386-8530
Franklin County Sheriff’s Department 256-332-8811
Muscle Shoals Fire Department 256-386-9230
Phil Campbell Fire Department 205-993-5313
Mike MeltonColbert County EMA Director 256-386-8558
Roy GoberFranklin County EMA Director 256-332-8890
Shoals Hospital 256-386-1600

Media Contacts



WVNA Radio          256-383-2525 NWSCC Broadcasting        256-314-0633
WQLT Radio           256-164-8121 WHNT                                  256-534-7226
WMSR-FM              256-766-9436 WAFF                                   256-533-6397
WZZA                     256-381-1862 WAAY                                   256-533-3131
WJBB Radio            205-486-2277
WERH                     205-921-3481
WXKI/WHIY            256-837-9387
WGOL                     256-332-0214


Times Daily


Franklin County Times


Northwest Alabamian


Courier Journal


Colbert County Reporter


Crisis Communication Plan

Mission and Goals


1. Protect lives and property

2. Respond to emergencies promptly and properly

3. Coordinate with local emergency operations plans and community resources

4. Aid in recovery from disasters


1. Provide emergency response plans, services, and supplies for all facilities and employees

2. Ensure the safety and supervision of students, faculty, staff and visitors to the school.

3. Restore normal services as quickly as possible

4. Coordinate the use of school personnel and facilities

5. Provide detailed and accurate documentation of emergencies to aid in the recovery process.


Crisis– A crisis is a major, unplanned event that threatens our students, faculty, facility and our community.

Crisis Communications– The dialog between our college and our publics before, during and after a crisis in order to minimize damage to our image

Emergency Operations Center – To be used if primary command center is unavailable

Tornado– A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending between, and in contact with, a cloud and the surface of the earth.

Severe thunderstorm– Can produce tornadoes or cause damage from strong wind gusts and/or hail.

Tornado watch– Conditions are conducive to the development of tornadoes in/close to the watch area.

Tornado warning– A tornado has been sighted by spotters or indicated on radar and is occurring or imminent in the warning area.

Severe thunderstorm watch– Conditions are conducive to the development of severe thunderstorms in and close to the watch area.

Severe thunderstorm warning– A severe thunderstorm has been observed by spotters or indicated on radar, and is occurring or imminent in the warning area.









Local Law enforcement

Alabama State Board of Education (District Member, Gary Warren)

Department of Postsecondary Education

Mayor of Muscle Shoals, David Bradford

Mayor of Phil Campbell, Jerry Mays

Governor of Alabama, Dr. Robert J. Bentley


Communications Procedure During Tornado

If a tornado is spotted in the area


All Crisis Communication Team Members watch weather forecasts to be aware of tornado warnings at all times.

Incident Commander makes the following announcement using the Public Address System, 2-way radio, telephone and/or Patriot Alert System:

“Your attention please: We are experiencing an emergency situation and need to implement shelter-in-place procedures. Students and staff are directed to move to the designated shelter locations and safe areas.  All staff and students outside are to immediately move to the protection of an inside room.”

All Communications orders a reverse evacuation for students and staff outside to move inside the building. Use the Public Address System, 2-way radio, telephone and/or Patriot Alert System or runner to gather staff and students inside.

Student Supervision directs staff to close all windows and doors.

Building Coordinator orders the shut-off of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems to stop the inflow of outside air into the building, if warranted.

Liaison to extended agencies notifies the Department of Post-secondary personnel that the college is using the Shelter-in-place.

Recorder monitors the weather radio and reports any changes in status to the Incident Commander: Drop, cover and hold, All clear.

Building Coordinator shuts off utilities if necessary and turns off ventilation systems as appropriate.

Faculty/Staff Supervision moves students to the designated safe areas, closes classroom doors and windows when leaving, has everyone kneel down and be ready to cover their heads to protect from debris.

Faculty/Staff outside directs students into the nearest building, interior safe area or basement, has those outside attempt to squat or lie low in the nearest open ditch or low spot away from trees and power poles if there is no time to get into the shelter.

Communications Procedure During Tornado

If a tornado touches down

Liaison to extended agencies notifies emergency response personnel as necessary.

Safety/Security contacts campus police and ensures the safety of students and staff.

Command Center Operations notifies Incident Commander, establishes command center and activates Crisis Communications Team.

Medical/First Aid contacts emergency medical facilities to rescue students and staff if anyone is thought to be injured.

Search and Rescue performs a headcount on all students and staff and communicates any missing persons to the Recorder who will notify Incident Commander.

As many Crisis Team Members as possible report to the command center or the Emergency Operations Center if the Command center is inoperable.

Tertiary Spokesperson utilizes the telephone log sheet to answer incoming calls.

All Communications contacts local media and the police.

Faculty/Staff Supervision contacts emergency medical facilities for updated information on injured students and staff.

Liaison to Extended Agencies updates Facebook status and continues to post Twitter updates about the safety of students and staff as information becomes available.

All Communications invites local media to press conference after establishing date/time with the President.

Incident Commander uses checklist to set up for press conference after all lives have been accounted for and emergency responders have treated all injured students and faculty.

Student Supervision establishes shelter for any students/faculty whose homes have been effected.

Building Coordinator manages building maintenance and rehabilitation.

Runner gathers information from the team, writes a statement for the press and briefs the Spokesperson.

Incident Commander chooses available faculty and hosts a press conference ASAP.

Recorder records video of Spokesperson’s statement and posts to YouTube.

All Communications continues to update Facebook and Twitter.

Primary and Tertiary Spokesperson return phone calls and follows up with the Press.

Communications Procedure After a Tornado

After the Crisis has been resolved and programs return to normal

Runner assists the President in writing letters and cards to affected families, students and faculty thanking for their help and expressing sympathy and supervises delivery of these messages.

All Communications assists the President in releasing another public statement.

Incident Commander distributes evaluation forms to the Crisis Communications Team and leads revision of the Crisis Communications Plan.

Liaison to Extended Agencies continues to update Facebook and Twitter.

Crisis Command Center

This is our designated space to gather and manage our crisis including handling 100+ incoming phone calls, meeting with the media and communicating with publics.


Emergency Operations Center (if primary location is unavailable):_________________________

Necessary supplies/equipment:

_ Updated copy of Crisis Communications Plan.
_ Chairs and tables to accommodate all team members.
_ Pencils, pens, paper, company letterhead paper, envelopes, staplers and highlighters.
_ White board, blackboard or flip chart with markers or chalk.
_ Flashlights and battery powered lamps.
_ Walkie talkies.
_ Battery powered radio.
_ As many telephones and computers as possible. Include manual typewriter.
_ Extension cords and generator accessibility.
_ Copy machine.
_ Cameras and film.
_ First Aid kits.
_ None perishable food and beverage.
_ Hard copy of updated policy and procedures, safety records, company fact sheets and annual reports.

Telephone Log Sheet

It is important for future reference to have documentation of calls received and returned for future reference. It is equally important to communicate with as many publics as possible, as quickly as possible to keep lines of communication open throughout the crisis.  Please use this form and make copies as needed to keep a log of communications. Pay attention to high priority calls especially.

Priority (circle one):                High                             Medium                                  Low

____ Voice mail Box

Received From:______________________________




Message: _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Call Returned by:________________________________________________________________

Date:____________________ Time:_____________________

Notes: ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Social Media Checklist

Team Member Responsible:_______________________________________________________

_ Email blast to all students.
_ Facebook Update expressing concern/regret/condolences.
_ Update Twitter every time there is new information available.
_ Submit podcast of public statement and update on what is being done by the team.
_ Submit a video of the CEO’s statement to the press on the YouTube account.
_ Mail letters/cards to affected students or families expressing support in any way.

Guide to writing social media messages

  • Respect your publics. Think from the student’s perspective. What information do you think they want? What information do they already know?
  • Remember that social media such as Facebook and Twitter are public. Only state what you wish the world to know about the crisis.
  • Don’t forget about snail mail. Consider sending info on tornado warnings and available shelters in the mail during tornado season.
  • Scan media on a regular basis for what students and publics are saying about the college. Respond to misinformation.
  • Only convey certain factual information.
  • Be as brief as possible.
  • No emoticons! Emoticons should not be used to convey serious information.
  • Edit and proofread thoroughly. Do not rely on spell-check alone.


Every member of the crisis team should be diligent in scanning social media to detect misinformation or rumors. Notify the chosen social media representative immediately.


(Fact Sheet)

Current number of faculty and staff: ______

Current number of students attending regular classes: ______

_ Photos of Faculty and students involved in the crisis.
_ Maps of our campus: Shoals Campus and Phil Campbell Campus (see attached maps).

Northwest-Shoals Community College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award the Associate in Arts, Associate in Science, Associate in Applied Science and Associate in Occupational Technology degrees as well as certificates in specific occupational areas. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Northwest-Shoals Community College.

Location of Storm shelters

Phil Campbell: The basement of buildings 302, 308, 310, and 312

Shoals Campus: All buildings – since there are no buildings with basements on this campus, faculty, staff and students will be instructed to enter into an interior hallway away from windows and put their heads down

Phil Campbell Campus

Shoals Campus

Key Messages

In accordance with our mission, our priority is the safety of students, staff members and our community as well as property. Our goal is to react swiftly to crises and restore services as quickly as possible.

The following points are important to mention in interviews with the media and interaction with publics:

  • “Our primary concern is for the safety of our students, staff members and our community.”
  • “We are prepared at all times to maintain functionality of our facility. We will be restoring service to our students as soon as possible.”
  • “We are currently working with local law enforcement and emergency services to manage the situation quickly.”
  • “Our concern extends to the entire community. We will be communicating information frequently as we resolve this matter.”

Incident Information Sheet

_ Initial Report _ Update

Date:_____________ Time:_____________  Check one:

What happened? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

When did this happen? Who was first to respond? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Which emergency responders are aware and on their way? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Where did it happen? Be specific! (ex: Building, room)


What is the function of this area?


What is the number of students/faculty evacuated from this area? ______________________________

Who has been injured?

Where are they being treated?


What is being done to manage this event? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Public Information Release

_ Muscle Shoals, AL _ Phil Campbell, AL

Northwest-Shoals Community College:



To an be used in print and/or as a script.

_____________Campus of Northwest-Shoals Community College has just experienced a(an) ____________________.

_ The (students/employees) (are or have been) accounted for.
_ No further information is available at this time.


Emergency medical services

_ are here.
_ are on the way.
_ are unavailable to use.


_ are here.
_ are on the way.
_ are unavailable to use.

Fire department

_ are here.
_ are on the way.
_ are unavailable to use.

Communication centers for parents and or families (are/is) being set up at (location)_______________ to answer questions about individual students.

_ There have been no reported injuries at this time.OR
_ Injuries have been reported at ____________ (location) and are being treated at the site by (Staff/professional medical responders).
_ Students/Employees have been taken to a safe area.
_ (number)_____ students have been taken to the local emergency room for treatment of injuries. Families of injured students should go to the emergency room at ______________.
_ (number)_____ employees have been taken to the local emergency room for treatment of injuries. Families of injured students should go to the emergency room at ______________.
_ (number)_____ confirmed deaths have been reported at ____________(location). Names cannot be released until families have been notified.
_ Structural damage has been reported at the following sites: ___________________________.


Checklist for Establishing a Press Conference

Part One

Choose several potential locations before a crisis occurs. List three potential locations below:


_ Check with the President and determine the time for the press conference. Time:______. Establish a time that is ASAP!
_ Use the media list to notify them of the time and location of the conference.
_ Names of the reporters who plan to attend:


_ Invite outside officials if desired.
_ Person assigned to setting up the conference space: _____________________________
_ Video recorder.
_ Junction box for microphones.
_ Podium and background.
_ Chairs/tables.
_ Place press kits at the entrance (copies of fact sheets, news release, biographical info, campus map, annual report, etc).
_ Check sound and functioning of all electrical equipment.
_ Place sign in sheet at the entrance.


Checklist for establishing a press conference

Part Two

_ Brief the President and any expert spokespeople (see Briefing form).
_ Review potential questions and responses.
_ Assigned staff member to manage the conference:_______________________________
  • Invite media personnel into the conference area, direct them to press kits and sign in sheet.
  • Announce the ground rules (one question at a time, length of conference, etc…)
  • Monitor questions closely.
  • Announce the last question.
  • Escort media out and take information from anyone who has follow up questions, assure them that they will be contacted.


Post Conference

_ Respond to follow up requests.
_ Monitor news coverage and respond to any errors.
_ Do not forget to follow up with media personnel who attended after the crisis has cleared. Ask for their feedback and include this in evaluation of the crisis response.

Welcome to Northwest Shoals Community College. Please sign in.

Name:                                                                         Contact info (email or phone please):



Please use this guide to briefing the spokesperson before telephone interviews or press conferences.

Date of interview:___________ Time:_________ Location:______________________________________________________________________

Name of the reporter:___________________________________________________________

Name of their publication (media source):____________________________________________

What you need to know about this reporter (what to expect from them): ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Information requested from the reporter: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Recommended Response and background info: __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Our Key messages:

  • “Our primary concern is for the safety of our students, staff members and our community.”
  • “We are prepared at all times to maintain functionality of our facility. We will be restoring service to our students as soon as possible.”
  • “We are currently working with local law enforcement and emergency services to manage the situation quickly.”
  • “Our concern extends to the entire community. We will be communicating information frequently as we resolve this matter.”

Expert spokesperson(s) to be included in the interview:


Issues to avoid: ___________________________________________________________________________________


Remember: NEVER respond with “No comment.” State “I’m not sure at this time. I will contact you as soon as I know.” And do not speculate!

Guide to Media Questions


  1. Never EVER say “No Comment.” Instead, state that you are unsure or do not have all of the facts and would prefer to report information you are certain about. “As soon as I am certain, I will follow up with you.” Never answer with your best guess.
  2. BE SINCERE. Respond to the crisis as the concerned person that you are. Show the media that you care just as much or even more than they do. Embrace your emotions!
  3. Utilize key messages as much as possible.
  4. Take responsibility for the crisis and do not place blame on anyone. No excuses!
  5. Have a prepared statement.
  6. Use language that the general public will understand easily.
  7. Stay calm.
  8. Be respectful towards reporters. Use their name as much as possible and listen to the entire question before answering. Look them in the eye. They are our Allies!
  9. Do not allow questions that require you to predict the future. Request that questions relate to the present situation and assure everyone that the college is working hard to end the crisis swiftly.
  10. Remove gum or sunglasses and keep water nearby.
  11. Beware of casual questions after the questions are through. Everything you say will be utilized by the media.
  12. If a question has several parts, break it down and answer each part separately.
  13. Avoid sarcasm and expressing frustration towards inappropriate questions. Utilize key messages and BE FACTUAL.




Evaluation Form

Please provide your input for evaluation of our response to our recent crisis. This will help us modify our current crisis plan and be better prepared for future crisis.

What part of our crisis communications plan was most helpful?

Was any part of our plan ineffective or obsolete?

What do you think we could have done differently?

Should anything be added to our plan to aid in a better reaction in the future?

Was there anything missing at our command center?


            This plan will be rehearsed by the faculty and staff one week before the fall semester and one week before the spring semester. An ad-hock drill that will include the student body will be rehearsed during the spring semester. The date will be chosen by the President of the college to ensure that it will have maximum student involvement.





By signing this document, I acknowledge that I have read and understand the contents here in, and I agree to the implementation as our sole crisis communication plan.


________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Sign:



Additional information related to Tornado Warning Signs


Be alert to what is happening outside as well. Here are some of the things that people describe when they tell about a tornado experience:

  • A sickly greenish or greenish black color to the sky.
  • If there is a watch or warning posted, then the fall of hail should be considered as a real danger sign. Hail can be common in some areas, however, and usually has no tornadic activity along with it.
  • A strange quiet that occurs within or shortly after the thunderstorm.
  • Clouds moving by very fast, especially in a rotating pattern or converging toward one area of the sky.
  • A sound a little like a waterfall or rushing air at first, but turning into a roar as it comes closer. The sound of a tornado has been likened to that of both railroad trains and jets.
  • Debris dropping from the sky.
  • An obvious “funnel-shaped” cloud that is rotating, or debris such as branches or leaves being pulled upwards, even if there is no funnel cloud visible.




“If you see a tornado and it is not moving to the right or to the left relative to trees or power poles in the distance, it may be moving towards you! Remember that although tornadoes usually move from southwest to northeast, they also move towards the east, the southeast, the north, and even northwest.”

In the event that you cannot make it to the designated shelter area, remember to take refuge:

“in a small, windowless, first floor, interior room like a closet or bathroom. The bathtub and commode are anchored directly into the ground, and sometimes are the only thing left in place after the tornado. Getting into the bathtub with a couch cushion over you gives you protection on all sides, as well as an extra anchor to the foundation. Plumbing pipes may or may not help hold the walls together, but all the extra framing that it takes to put a bathroom together may make a big difference. If there is no downstairs bathroom and the closets are all packed with “stuff,” a hall may be the best shelter. Put as many walls as you can between yourself and the tornado. In a pinch, put a metal trash can over as much of you as you can. It will keep some flying debris from injuring you. Even that may make the difference between life and death.”


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One Response to Group 4 Crisis Communication Plan for NW-SCC

  1. l992 says:

    With a crisis communication plan, there are is much more work to be done, than just reacting when the crisis occurs. There are a multiple jobs to be done before the crisis even happens like watching for prodromes. This group did a really good of listing of all the duties that need to be done to detect a crisis, or to lessen the blow of a crisis. I believe that this part of the plan is overlooked often, and your group did a great job of covering this aspect of a crisis plan.

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