THON leaders drill, test emergency plan to help keep students, visitors safe

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — On a Friday night, hundreds of Penn State students gathered at the Bryce Jordan Center, not to enjoy a concert or to cheer on student-athletes, but to pretend to evacuate — all in the name of safety.

Penn State and THON leaders seek to improve safety procedures during event

THON leaders take every precaution possible to ensure the safety of all participants and spectators during the 46-hour event. For years, student officials have mulled over evacuation plans and tweaked them year by year as they deemed it necessary. Janine Patton, Rules and Regulations Director for THON 2014, saw that while having the plan in a written form was good, actually executing that plan as a drill would be even better. Because of the collaborative efforts between Janine, Penn State and Centre County emergency management officials, THON attendees can focus fully on hopefully someday wiping out pediatric cancer and rest knowing that they are safe in the Bryce Jordan Center while doing so.

C Roy Parker

The 2014 executive committee of the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, or THON, participated in a town-gown-partnered emergency tabletop exercise followed by an evacuation drill. They mobilized several hundred THON captains to act as "evacuees."

All of the events were initiated by Janine Patton, THON 2014 Rules and Regulations director, who is in charge of overseeing THON's long-established emergency plan and determined that putting the directors' knowledge in action was the best way to improve their level of preparation.

In sharing the results of the plan with central Pennsylvania news media, Pam Soule, Penn State emergency planner, and Shawn Kauffman, Centre Region Council of Governments emergency management coordinator, explained the significance of conducting emergency simulations.

Kauffman and Soule conducted the evening's workshop and simulation and have offered professional guidance, but emphasized that THON students have led the way in testing and improving the organization's emergency planning. During the simulation, Soule also involved students from Penn State College of Information Technology's Red Cell Analytics Lab to act out specific, unexpected scenarios the directors encountered during the drill.

Read about the Red Cell Analytics Lab's involvement in monitoring THON 2014 for potential safety and security concerns.

The 46-hour no-sitting, no-sleeping THON Weekend 2014 kicks off at 6 p.m. this Friday, Feb. 21, at the Bryce Jordan Center. Visitors are reminded that Penn State Athletics' bag policy is in place for THON, and visitors will be asked to wear digital bracelets as part of THON's digital line management system that aims to minimize entrance wait times when the Jordan Center is at maximum capacity.

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Last Updated August 26, 2014