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ESH Manual Page: 6000: Emergency Prevention & Management

It is the policy of the Sanford Underground Research Facility (hereafter referred to as SURF) that trained emergency responders, following an established Emergency Response Plan, be available at all times to provide emergency response capabilities. In addition, a SURF Crisis Communication Plan will be available to communicate significant emergency events to the work force, relatives of affected employees, and the surrounding community. Emergencies at SURF are managed through the Emergency Management Group and the Emergency Response Coordinator.


This policy’s purpose is to establish clear requirements for a formal Emergency Response Group and a corresponding Emergency Response Plan to provide timely emergency response capabilities for SURF. Responses to incidents that are not emergencies but involve personal injury, harm to the environment, or property or equipment damage are discussed in the Incident Reporting, Response and Investigation Policy .


Emergency: A serious situation or occurrence that happens unexpectedly, poses an immediate risk to life, health, property, or environment, and demands immediate action. There are three types of emergencies at SURF - localized, site-wide, and regional-incident. Further details are provided in SURF’s Emergency Response Plan (ERP) .

Emergency Response Coordinator (ERC): The person designated to coordinate and manage emergency response, including overseeing the Emergency Management Group.

Emergency Management Group: Group that coordinates emergency and non-emergency incident response at SURF; a matrix organization coordinated through the Emergency Response Coordinator (ERC). Further definition is provided in Section 5.1 .

Emergency Response Plan (ERP): A plan of action providing procedures and guidelines for responding to emergency situations at SURF. The plan’s primary objective is to provide instruction on the deployment and coordination of response capabilities to ensure timely response to an emergency.

Emergency Response Team (ERT): The core of SURF’s Emergency Management Group; this team provides multiple response capabilities for both surface and underground emergencies, but specializes in underground rescue.

Experiment Specific Emergency Response Plans: A supplement to SURF’s overarching Emergency Response Plan that details the hazards and associated emergency response elements for science experiments within the facility that may require specialized emergency response.

Incident Commander: The individual identified by the Incident Command System that is responsible for directing the response to a given emergency event.

Incident Command System (ICS): A set of personnel, policies, procedures, facilities, and equipment, integrated into a common organizational structure designed to improve emergency response operations of all types and complexities. ICS is a subcomponent of the National Incident Management System (NIMS).


Listed below are the individual and group responsibilities specific to this policy.

Communications Director:

  • Define the Crisis Communication Plan. Maintain this plan with the EHS director.

EHS Director:

  • Annual (at a minimum) review of the Emergency Management Policy.
  • Annual review of the Crisis Communication Plan.

Emergency Response Coordinator:

  •  Oversee the Emergency Management Group.
  •  Maintain the ERP and ensure all the information is current, including organizing an annual review of the ERP.
  •  Schedule and exercise mock emergencies and drills to familiarize personnel with emergency response procedures. Prepare a summary report of all drills for the EHS director.
  •  With the ERT coordinator, review experiment-specific Emergency Response Plans to understand possible hazards and response scenarios. Ensure appropriate response capabilities are available for identified hazards and response scenarios. Ensure ERT receives appropriate training for the anticipated hazards.

Emergency Response Team:

• As directed by the ERC, provide first response to underground and surface emergencies.

ERT Coordinator:

  •  Oversee the ERT, which includes coordinating all necessary training.
  •  With the ERC, review experiment-specific Emergency Response Plans and ensure appropriate response capabilities are available for identified response scenarios.
  • Experimental Safety Manager
  •  Provide initial review of experiment-specific Emergency Response Plans.
  •  Participate in annual reviews for experiment-specific Emergency Response Plans.


  •  Ensure all employees under his/her supervision are trained with respect to emergency response in accordance with this policy.

Safety Representative for Science Collaborations:

  •  Develop an experiment-specific Emergency Response Plan. • Conduct an annual review of the experiment-specific Emergency Response Plan, with SURF’s Experimental Safety Manager.

Emergency (and non-emergency) incident response at SURF is provided through the Emergency Management Group. This is a matrix organization that is directed by the Emergency Response Coordinator (ERC). Group members come from EHS, Operations, Engineering, and Science and include temporary employees.

The core of the Emergency Management Group is the Emergency Response Team (ERT), which is led by the ERT Coordinator. The scope and structure of the ERT is discussed in the ERT Charter . The ERT provides a wide range of onsite response capabilities, including:

The ERC and ERT Coordinator have identified internal resources to provide general assistance to the ERT during an emergency response. External resources have been identified to supplement those areas where the ERT requires additional emergency response capabilities. These internal and external resources include:

  1. Underground Hazard Mitigation Team – an internal resource composed of an existing Operation’s Team that can be called upon to assist the ERT with various elements of an emergency response (e.g. rock bolting, haulage, wall building, etc.)
  2. Security Team – an internal resource utilized to help secure an accident scene and escort outside emergency personnel.
  3. Recognized Outside Resources – Emergency Response Groups that are not a part of SURF (e.g., Lawrence County Emergency Manager, Lead and Deadwood Fire Departments, Lawrence County Search and Rescue, Black Hills Life Flight, Rapid City Fire Department HAZMAT squad, etc.)

Significant incidents and emergencies at SURF will be managed using the principles of the Incident Command System. The initial incident commander (IC) will be the first responder on scene until he/she is relieved by a supervisor or person more qualified to manage the specific incident. The nature of the incident will dictate who should ultimately be in the IC position for that incident. In many cases, the initial IC will transfer command to the ERC (see the

Emergency Response Plan (ERP) for further details). The IC has the authority to request assistance as needed to mitigate the emergency. Assistance from outside resources (other than medical, fire and police) shall be requested through the Lawrence County Emergency Manager.

In the event that other jurisdictional agencies respond to an incident on SURF property (ambulance, fire, police, etc.), the IC will enter into unified command with the individual that is in command of those resources.


SURF’s Emergency Response Plan (ERP) describes emergency response procedures for the facility as a whole. It includes specific response procedures for emergency scenarios that are most likely to be encountered at SURF. Due to the unique hazards associated with science work, surface and underground science laboratories will be required to write area specific emergency response plans to supplement SURF’s overarching ERP (see Section 5.7 ).

  1. Maintenance: It is the responsibility of the ERC to maintain the ERP; including ensuring all the information in the ERP is current.
  2. Reviews: The ERP will be reviewed on an annual basis by the ERC, and other individuals selected by the EHS Director. The ERP is under configuration control and all proposed changes to the ERP go through the Change Control Board for approval.
  3. Distribution: During initial and refresher training, all employees will be instructed as to the location of the electronic version of the Emergency Response Plan (ERP) . The ERP is available for personnel use in the SURF document management system, DocuShare ( ), with a copy being maintained by the EHS Director and ERC. The Underground Emergency Reporting System Flowchart and the Surface Emergency Reporting System Flowchart will be posted in all buildings and common areas. In order to facilitate emergency response from outside entities, electronic and hard copies of the ERP are distributed to:
  • Lead Fire Department
  • City of Lead
  • Deadwood Fire Department
  • Lead-Deadwood Hospital
  • Lawrence County Emergency Manager
  • Lawrence County Sheriff/Dispatch

Large-scale science projects will require a site-specific emergency response plan that details the hazards and emergency response elements associated with the experiment. These experiment-specific Emergency Response Plans will be written by the designated safety representative for the science collaboration, and reviewed at a minimum by SURF’s Experiment Safety Manager. These plans will work with and complement SURF’s overarching ERP. Science collaborations will be notified during the approval and review process if an experiment-specific Emergency Response Plan is required.

These plans will be reviewed on a annual basis by the science collaborations safety representative and SURF’s Experimental Safety Manager.

A copy of these plans must be given to the ERC, who will ensure that the appropriate Emergency Response Team members are trained with respect to these plans and that the ERT understand the hazards that may be encountered during an emergency response in that area.

In addition to experiment specific plans related to science, specific emergency response plans may be required for other areas of the facility that have associated hazards that may require specialized or specific emergency response procedures.


Personnel will receive training appropriate to the level of their expected involvement in an emergency event. The following are the general training requirements for SURF personnel.

  • Awareness Level – all Lab personnel (including science collaborations) will be trained to Awareness Level. This training includes initial response and communication of an incident, identification of evacuation routes and meeting areas, and general incident awareness described in the ERP.

    Operations Level – designed for supervisors, project managers, hoist operators, infrastructure technicians, Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) department members, and guides. This training includes all the information in Awareness Level plus personnel accounting procedures, applicable emergency Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), and incident command.

  • ERT Charter . ERT/Responder Level – designed for members of the ERT. These training requirements (including the frequency) are addressed in detail in the

All SURF employees will receive emergency response training during initial site-specific training that is commensurate with their job duties (i.e. Awareness, Operational, or ERT/Responder). Refresher training will be given on an annual basis and, when appropriate, to relay significant changes to the ERP. Personnel changing job assignments will receive additional training as required by the new job description.


Drills and mock emergencies will be scheduled by the ERC to familiarize personnel with emergency response procedures. Drills will be exercised at a minimum bi-annually on the surface and quarterly for the underground on varied work shifts. Specific areas to be evaluated during the exercises include the following:

  1. Evacuation and accountability of personnel
  2. Proper functioning of alert system
  3. Special procedures for evacuation of personnel with special disabilities or impairments
  4. Time required to assemble the members of the ERT
  5. ERT’s overall performance to the mock emergency


Drills and mock emergencies are planned to have specific objectives and are not executed until approval is sought and received from the Lab Director and EHS Director. Considerations are given to whether or not the drill is to be announced before execution.

Drills and mock emergencies will be documented indicating results of the exercise, lessons learned, and recommendations for plan modifications. The ERC shall prepare and submit a report to the EHS Director concerning each drill and recommendations for improvement.


The Crisis Communication Plan sets forth procedures to communicate emergency events to employees, relatives of affected employees, the media, and the surrounding communities. This document is maintained by the SURF Communications Director with assistance from the EHS Director. Communication of emergency incidents to senior management and funding agencies is addressed in SURF’s Incident Notification System (INS) policy.



  •  Crisis Communication Plan
  •  Incident Notification System
  •  ERT Charter
  •  Emergency Response Plan (ERP)
  •  Incident Reporting, Response and Investigation Policy
  •  Underground Emergency Reporting System Flowchart
  •  Surface Emergency Reporting System Flowchart
  1.  Underground Emergency Rescue (including limited fire fighting capabilities)
  2.  Spill Response
    1. a. Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures (SPCC)
    2. b. HAZMAT
  3. Medical Response
  4. Confined Space Rescue (including response to science related emergencies involving oxygen deficiency hazards/ODH)
  5. High Angle Rope Rescue