Veteran of campus police force is Penn State's new emergency planner

Lt. Brian Bittner, a 12-year veteran of the Penn State University Police, has been hired as an emergency planner in the University’s Office of Emergency Management.

As a part of the University’s ongoing emergency planning effort, Bittner will be working with individual departments and other organizations on the University Park campus to develop emergency plans on a unit-by-unit basis.

“We’re going to teach departments what they need to do in order to function if something catastrophic were to happen to their personnel or their building, and how to recover from such an event,” Bittner said.

Emergency Manager Clifford Lutz said Penn State’s emergency management planning process is modeled after other successful programs at similarly sized institutions. He said the University is implementing a tiered planning structure that begins with action plans for individual employees.

“We start by taking care of our employees and by having our employees take care of their families so that everybody is safe and able to do their jobs,” Lutz said. “Then we work at the unit level – that’s Brian’s main focus. He’s going to be training faculty, staff and students in the steps they need to take to care for themselves. Then he’ll be working at the unit level to have them prepare their unit plans.”

Lutz said even something as simple as a water main break can disrupt operations within an individual unit; an emergency plan can help to mitigate the effects on personnel and on the unit’s productivity.

The Office of Emergency Management also will be working closely with Penn State’s Commonwealth Campuses to develop plans based on the same tiered structure. A large part of that planning process, Bittner said, will be working to establish relationships with local emergency responders near each campus.

“If you think about what goes into emergency planning at an institution the size of Penn State, we have to work hand-in-hand with local volunteers. They play a major part,” he said.

Bittner, who has been in emergency services since he became a volunteer firefighter in 1990, is a certified EMT and serves as interim chief of Penn State’s Hazardous Materials team. He said he already enjoys his new position. Bittner has been on the job since Oct. 1.

“This is an exciting job, to be honest with you,” Bittner said. “There’s a lot to do and it is really fresh, so things stay interesting.”

For more on emergency management at Penn State, visit http://www.emergencymanagement.psu.edu/ online.

Last Updated November 18, 2010