LSU looking for emergency lessons from Saturday's storm

Published: Sep. 9, 2015 at 1:10 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 9, 2015 at 2:13 AM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The lightning storm over Tiger Stadium was not exactly the electric show of force people were hoping to see for a season opener.

As the bolts popped, announcements over the stadium's PA system told people to take shelter in the concourses. After that, however, fans say they were kind of in the dark about what to do next.

"It was crazy. It was hectic," said student Ashley Paratore. "I had no idea what was going on, like if the game was going to resume or anything."

Days later, under clearer skies, officials with the university's Emergency Operations Center are reviewing the tape from Saturday. Even though the lightning storm was not considered an emergency event, Lt. Kevin Scott with the EOC said there are always lessons to be learned.

"We were in a state of temporary relocation. Once people were within the confines of the stadium, for all intents and purposes, they were safe, so there was no need to communicate continuously," said Scott. "Obviously communication could have been improved."

The university's EOC meets constantly to discuss the worst case "what ifs."  According to Scott, the university uses guidelines from East Baton Rouge Parish to plan for possible man-made or natural disasters, scenarios such as a chemical spill or extreme weather. Those emergency plans also cover evacuating or sheltering people on campus, including a packed Tiger Stadium.

Scott said the university is also always testing those contingency plans through practice emergency drills.

"LSU, LSU Police and all of our public safety partners at the federal, state and local levels, we work continuously throughout the year to make sure that protective action planning is in place," said Scott.

Scott could not go into specifics about emergency plans for safety reasons, but he did say there is always trained staff on hand to get people where they should go should an emergency happen. The university also has several methods of communication including emergency text messages, phone calls, social media and traditional news media.

However, during athletic events Scott said LSU's Athletic Department is the primary source for information. Scott also said that since Saturday's incident was not a true weather emergency, officials felt the stadium's PA system was sufficient for communicating to fans.

Click here for more about LSU's EOC program.

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