Monday’s ‘Exercise Mayhem’ will test York U’s emergency preparedness plans

Vari Hall in the winter time

Mayhem will be the word of the day on Monday, March 3 as Keele campus staff participate in a simulated emergency as part of an exercise designed to test York University’s emergency preparedness plans.

Some 55 people from across the campus will be involved in project “Exercise Mayhem”, with 30 “players” drawn from York U’s administrative and executive ranks fulfilling different leadership roles deemed integral during a campus-wide emergency event.

“Regular testing of an organization’s emergency plans is an industry-wide best practice,” says Katherine Branton, manager of York U’s emergency preparedness program. “It ensures that an organization and its staff are educated on and comfortable with their roles during the execution of an emergency plan. It also ensures that the plan itself is functional and accurately reflects the ever-changing needs of the University community.”

The simulation will test the University’s plans as participants work through different scenarios in an Emergency Operations Centre. As with a true emergency, the specific location of the Emergency Operations Centre is not revealed.

The benefits of the simulation are many, says Branton. Staff responsible for planning how the University reacts in the event of an emergency can see how their plans work and where improvements are required.

“Simulations allow the emergency preparedness team to better anticipate the challenges that both the Emergency Operations Centre and the University could encounter in a large-scale emergency,” she says. “It gives us ‘fresh eyes’ to emerging events and the events themselves.”

Additional benefits of the emergency simulation include troubleshooting complications, reviewing how communication between the Emergency Operation Centre staff and responders happens, and understanding where things went right and wrong.

“It provides a crucial opportunity for everyone involved to understand their roles, the plan and the context in which everything must function,” says Branton.

The ultimate goal of both the simulation and the emergency plan is to minimize disruption, harm and risk to the campus and its community should there ever be a real emergency event.

For more information on York University’s emergency preparedness plan, contact Branton at

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