By Leslie Wright for Laboratory Protection

INL’s Emergency Operations Center staff gave 10 graduate students in the University of Idaho’s TM-529 Risk Assessment course a chance to learn how risk management principles they learn in class are applied in actual emergency planning and response scenarios.

During the 90-minute tour of the EOC in the INL Administration Building on March 20, students heard an overview about INL’s mission and day-to-day activities from Carisa Schultz, Emergency Management public liaison, a UI alumna. They also learned how the EOC functions from Dionne Sentieri, an Emergency Management facility planner.

If an emergency action level is met, this team will follow a directed course of action that could include anything from evacuation to dispatch of emergency response personnel.

Students were shown the public information room, where a team monitors news media and social media channels, and creates news releases that are sent to a joint information center in the Engineering Research Office Building. There, an INL-led media response team provides information to employees, the public and news media.


University of Idaho students had the chance to hear from INL employees about how risk management principles are applied at the EOC.


The last stop on the tour was the planning room, where events are evaluated on a technical basis and any requisite analysis is performed. Though final decisions are made in the command room during an event, decision-makers are always provided with expert technical support and analysis from those in the planning room.

A response to any possible event requires high-level collaboration from a number of different INL groups. To keep these teams operating at their highest level, Sentieri explained, the Emergency Management group runs about 80 drills per year mimicking a variety of possible emergency situations. These include beyond design basis drills, which propose a hypothetical series of cascading or simultaneous events to help the team prepare for a worst-case scenario.

There are always lessons learned from these drills, Sentieri said, “but during an actual event, seeing the team in action is really something amazing. Everybody is always doing their best work.”


Dionne Sentieri, right, shows students around the public information room.


Students also heard from Kerry Ward, the Hazards Assessment Program lead, who spoke about his daily work touring facilities to check for hazards before they present an emergency situation.

“We learn mostly about reactive risk assessment in class,” said Dr. Robert Borrelli, the course instructor. “But this is a perfect example of proactive risk assessment.”

Overall, the tour provided students with a valuable opportunity to explore the implications of applying risk management and emergency planning to situations that impact real businesses, employees and citizens. “It’s important to see that the stuff we do in class, people are actually putting into practice,” Borrelli said.

Posted Apr. 6, 2017.