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ESH Manual Page: 6000: Emergency Prevention & Management



The purpose of the Sanford Underground Research Facility’s Emergency Response Plan (ERP) is to provide project personnel with procedures to follow for effective and safe actions in the event of an emergency at the Sanford Underground Research Facility, also referred to as SURF. The requirement for this plan is established in SURF’s Emergency Management policy. 


This plan applies to all employees, science-related users, visitors, and guests of the Sanford Underground Research Facility. In order to be defined as an emergency, the incident should be one of the following: 

  •  Immediately threatening to life , health , property or environment. 
  •  Have already caused loss of life, health detriments, property damage or environmental damage. 
  •  Have a high probability of escalating to cause immediate danger to life, health, property or  environment. 

The response to incidents that are not emergencies but involve personal injury, harm to the environment, or property or equipment damage is discussed in Incident Reporting, Response and  Investigation . 


EHS Department Members: 

  •  Complete necessary training as specified in the Emergency Management policy. 
  •  Assist the Emergency Response Coordinator (ERC) in managing the termination and recovery phases of an emergency. 

EHS Director:

  •  Provide guidance to the Laboratory Director when deciding if a formal emergency declaration is required for a given emergency. 
  •  Assure the ERP is reviewed on an annual basis and changes made as necessary. 
  •  With the Laboratory Director, approve limited work activities in areas affected by an emergency if dangerous conditions still exist or an investigation is planned. 
  •  Assure that the investigation and Final Emergency Report is completed. 

Emergency Responders: 

  •  Complete necessary training as specified in the Emergency Management policy. 
  •  Respond to emergencies as directed by the ERC. 

Emergency Response Coordinator: 

  •  Oversee the Emergency Management Group. 
  •  Manage emergency response at SURF: 
  •  Issue standard emergency declarations.
    • - Dispatch appropriate response groups. 
    • - Coordinate underground or surface evacuations. 
    • - Report potential emergencies to the EHS Director and Laboratory Director for determination of formal emergency declarations. 
    • - Declare emergency situations, all clear, and release to normal operations for standard declared emergencies. 
  •  Maintain the ERP, ensuring all the information is current. 
  •  Assist with the termination and recovery phases, investigation, and reporting of all emergencies. 
  •  Assure that all underground and surface personnel are accounted for and that non-essential surface personnel are isolated and safely away from the incident. 
  •  Schedule and exercise mock drills and emergencies to familiarize personnel with emergency response actions and to address changes in SURF conditions. 
  •  Seek and receive approval from the Lab Director and EHS Director before executing mock drills and emergencies. 
  •  Submit reports to the EHS Director of each ERP drill indicating results of the exercise and problems encountered along with recommendations for plan modifications. 

Emergency Wardens, Supervisors, Project Managers, and Guides: 

  •  Complete necessary training as specified in the Emergency Management policy. 
  •  Assist with the evacuation process and ensure areas are cleared during an evacuation.


  •  Contact their supervisor to inform them of their location in the event of a declared formal emergency. 
  •  Complete necessary training as specified in the Emergency Management policy. 

Laboratory Director :

  •  With input from the EHS Director, determine if a formal emergency declaration is required for a given emergency. 
  •  Determine need to activate the Crisis Communication Plan. 
  •  Declare site-wide evacuations; coordinated with the ERC or IC. 
  •  Issue an “All Clear” and “Return to Normal Operations” for formally declared emergencies. 
  •  With the EHS Director, approve limited work activities in affected areas if dangerous conditions still exist, or an investigation is planned. 
  •  Appoint a recovery manager where significant oversight and recovery time is anticipated. 

Project Managers, Infrastructure Technicians, Science Guides:

  •  Complete necessary training as specified in the Emergency Management policy. 

Building Owner and Lab Shift Supervisors: 

  •  Designate emergency wardens for buildings and laboratory spaces. 

Underground Personnel (all individuals going underground, including Visitors): 

  •  Complete training and use the Brass-In/Brass-Out system. 

All Clear: The term used to communicate that an emergency has been terminated. It does not represent a Release to Normal Operations. 

Emergency: A serious situation or occurrence that happens unexpectedly, poses an immediate risk to life, health, property, or environment, and demands immediate action. 

Emergency Declaration: An announcement that communicates an emergency condition exists. Once a declaration is made, the emergency response plan is formally activated. 

Emergency Management Group: Group that coordinates emergency and non-emergency incident response at SURF; a matrix organization coordinated through the Emergency Response Coordinator (ERC). 

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

Emergency Response Plan (ERP): Document establishing the general emergency response procedures for SURF. 

Emergency Response Team (ERT): The core of SURF’s Emergency Management Group; this team provides multiple response capability but specializes in underground rescue. 

Emergency Warden: An individual assigned to a particular workspace or building who is responsible for assisting in an evacuation and accounting for all persons in that space. 

Incident Command System (ICS): Nationally recognized system utilized by SURF for managing emergency response. 

Incident Commander (IC): Person designated in the ICS to lead or manage the response to an emergency. 

Release to Normal Operations: An order issued releasing an area involved in an emergency back to normal operations. An “All Clear” terminates the official emergency, while the “Release to Normal Operations” authorizes the restart of work. 

Brass-In/Brass-Out: A check-in and check-out system which provides an accurate record of all persons in the underground. 




The Surface Response Locations Map provides a numbered location for specific response areas for reference when instructing outside emergency resources (ambulance, fire, police, etc.) to the scene of an emergency or incident. 


Underground levels have been identified for use by Operations, Science, or to provide paths for egress, ventilation, or water control. For each of these levels, a map has been generated including primary and secondary/tertiary (if available) egress paths, location of 

safety equipment on the level, and sources of ventilation air. These maps are posted at the shaft station for each level and can be found in Emergency Response Plan Maps . 


Davis Campus Scenario Maps Situations & Responses consider events of fire/smoke, ODH (Oxygen Deficiency Hazard), and flooding. The maps outline the proper responses for evacuation from the various defined areas of the Davis Campus. 


Emergencies typically are unforeseen events that are associated with serious outcomes. 

Incidents, on the surface or in the underground, that may indicate an emergency event include: 

  1. Medical Emergency 
  2. Fire 
  3. Chemical Spill/Release 
  4. Severe Weather/ Natural Disaster 
  5. Water Inundation 
  6. Power Outage/ Hoist Failure 
  7. Entrapment 
  8. Vehicle Accident 
  9. Ventilation Failure 
  10. Security Threat (bomb threat, threat to employees, vandalism, computer threat, espionage) 

Specific response procedures for each of these events are found in Incident Specific  Response Procedures. ODH (Oxygen Deficiency Hazard) response procedures are found in the Davis Campus Scenario Maps  Situations & Responses POLICY Oxygen Deficiency Hazards and in the 


There are three general types of emergencies at the Sanford Underground Research Facility: 

Localized Emergencies - Smaller scale, lower consequence emergencies that are primarily coordinated through the Emergency Response Coordinator (ERC) and typically result in a Standard Emergency Declaration (see Section 5.3.4 ). Examples of such events may include non-life threatening injuries to an employee, precautionary evacuations of the underground due to large rainstorm events, or high CO alarms. 

Site-Wide Emergencies - An emergency that could impact the entire facility may lead to a formal emergency declaration by the Laboratory Director (see Section 5.3.4 ) and expansion of the Incident Command System (ICS) structure. The Emergency Response Coordinator (ERC) or Incident Commander (IC), and the EHS Director will assist the Laboratory Director in the decision. Examples of site-wide emergencies include a large-scale fire on the surface or underground; accidents that involve life threatening injuries or fatalities; or substantial damage to infrastructure, such as the 

Ross and Yates shafts or head frames, surface buildings, and underground lab modules. 

Regional-Incident Emergencies - the Lawrence County Sheriff, the Lawrence County Emergency Manager, the Lead Fire Department, the City of Lead, and the Lawrence County Commission may declare regional-incident emergencies that include SURF property and personnel. 


The initial response to a potential emergency or significant incident will normally be by individuals working in close proximity to the incident. Sections 5.3.1 and 5.3.2 summarize the general procedures for reporting and initial response to potential emergency situations. Also reference the Underground Emergency Reporting System Flowchart and the Surface  Emergency Reporting System Flowchart . 


Any person who is involved in or discovers an incident underground shall: 

  1.  Immediately make an initial determination as to whether the situation can be safely alleviated prior to seeking additional help. 
  2.  Remove any injured person(s) from the hazard only if there is no threat of further injury or further exposure to hazardous conditions either to the injured person or to himself/herself. Administer first aid or attempt to control the incident only if trained and can do so safely. Secure the area to prevent danger to other personnel. 
  3.  Contact the hoist operator as soon as practical after the incident discovery. Describe the incident, summarize the hazards associated with the area, and provide any other information that will help avoid injuries and remedy the problem. Depending on the situation, the hoist operator may do the following: 

If the emergency involves an injured person, the hoist operator will call 911 (Lawrence County Dispatch) and then the ERC to report the incident. If no injury is involved, the ERC will be the first to be notified. The hoist operator will provide the following information: 

  •  description of the incident 
  •  number of people affected (or involved) in the incident 
  •  the types of injuries associated with the incident, if applicable 
  •  time of the incident 
  •  address or response location to send help 
  •  name and phone number of the hoist operator 

The hoist operator may notify an infrastructure technician to respond to the emergency. 


Any person who is involved in or discovers an incident on the surface shall: 

  1. Immediately make an initial determination as to whether the situation can be safely alleviated prior to seeking additional help. 
  2. Remove any injured person(s) from the hazard only if there is no threat of further injury or further exposure to hazardous conditions either to the injured person or to himself/herself. Administer first aid or attempt to control the incident only if trained and can do so safely. Secure the area to prevent danger to other personnel. 
  3.  A serious incident, injury, or fire requires those responding to call 911 and the ERC to report the incident. The responder will provide the following information: 
  •  description of the incident 

  •  number of people injured in the incident 

  •  types of injuries associated with the incident 

  •  name and quantity of hazardous materials involved, where applicable 

  •  time of the incident 

  •  address or response location to send help 

  •  name and phone number of the hoist operator


The emergency incident scene must be secured to protect other employees from potential hazards and to preserve the incident scene for investigation purposes. 

Those first responding to an incident should utilize what is available at the time to restrict access to an incident scene. This may include equipment, rope, tape, cones, fencing, or people. These barriers should not be removed except by the Emergency Response Coordinator, Incident Commander, or his/her designee. 

For incidents or emergencies that are not easily defined or involve a large portion of SURF (i.e. Site-wide or Regional Incident Emergencies), SURF shall be secured at the direction of the Incident Commander in conjunction with the Lab Director, Operations Director, or EHS Director. 

  •  All gates shall be manned or closed. 
  •  Major accesses shall have a posted security guard. 
  •  Security shall regularly conduct scheduled rounds to verify SURF is secure. 
  •  Project personnel shall only exit SURF at the direction of the Incident Commander with permission from the Laboratory Director.


Once a potential emergency is reported to the ERC, an emergency declaration may be made. There are two types of emergency declarations at SURF, formal and standard. All emergencies (local, site-wide, and regional-incident) will start out with a standard emergency declaration, and may later be elevated to a Formal Emergency Declaration. The emergency declarations are defined as follows: 

Standard Emergency Declaration: Reserved for emergencies that are smaller in scale, have a minimum impact on the facility as a whole, and are managed primarily by the ERC. In these cases, the ERC will notify the supervisors whose areas of responsibility may be affected by the emergency. The supervisors are then responsible for notifying their employees of the situation. 

Formal Emergency Declaration: Reserved for emergencies that may impact the entire facility or have a negative impact on the future of the facility. Formal declarations must be made by the Laboratory Director with input from the EHS Director. A formal emergency declaration may or may not lead to site-wide evacuation. Depending on the circumstances, a formal emergency declaration may occur after the response has been initiated. If a formal emergency is declared, the emergency will be communicated to the entire facility by activating the Crisis Communication  Plan . 


The Emergency Response Coordinator (ERC) is the person identified by the facility to manage emergency response at the Laboratory. To assist the ERC, ERC Guidelines and  Tools contains key contact information, checklists, and forms utilized by the ERC in an emergency response. 

Upon notification of an emergency, the ERC will assess the situation and determine the appropriate response. The ERC will document all relevant information associated with the incident. If necessary, the ERC may assign someone to help with the documentation tasks. 


The following guidelines describe the initial ERC response. The order in which these steps are accomplished may vary depending upon the situation. 

  1. Determine if an Emergency Condition Exists: If the ERC determines an emergency condition exists, he/she will issue a Standard Emergency Declaration. Contacting affected supervisors can wait until steps 2-4 have been accomplished. 
  2. Transfer IC: In some cases, Incident Command will be transferred to the ERC. This will be agreed upon by the ERC and the current IC. 
  3. Evacuation: If necessary, initiate the appropriate Evacuation Procedures (see Section 5.5). The initial IC also has the authority to initiate an evacuation. Except for extreme cases, site-wide evacuations must be approved by the Laboratory Director. 
  4. Dispatch Response Team: Determine what response elements of the Emergency Management Group are required to respond to the situation and dispatch them to the scene. 
  5. Notification of Senior Management: As soon as reasonably possible, the ERC must contact the EHS Director to initiate any required Incident Notification System (INS) reporting requirements and determine if a Formal Emergency Declaration is required. 
  6. Evaluate ICS Structure: Determine if the current Incident Command System structure is appropriate or if expansion of the ICS structure is necessary. 

- Incidents requiring no further ICS expansion 

For incidents requiring no further ICS expansion, the ERC (in conjunction with the acting IC, if this position is not held by the ERC) will continue to coordinate the response to the incident and see it through to completion. This includes ensuring all reporting and investigation requirements are initiated as defined in Incident Reporting, Response and Investigation and the Incident Notification  System . 

- Incidents requiring ICS expansion 

Expansion of the ICS structure may be necessary for emergency situations requiring a large coordinated response or when unified command with outside agencies is required. Further guidelines for ICS expansion are provided in the Incident Command System Guidance . In such situations, the ERC, in conjunction with the SURF’s Laboratory Director and EHS Director will transfer IC to an appropriate individual. The ERC will then assist the IC in the response effort. The ERC will assist the IC to perform the following: 

  1. 1. Designate an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to facilitate centralized command and information. 
    • - The primary EOC shall be the Administration Building 2nd Floor Executive Conference Room. 
    • - The secondary EOC shall be the Administration Building 1st Floor West Conference room. 
    • - An alternate location shall be the main conference room in the Education and Outreach building. 
  2. Fill any necessary positions in the ICS structure with the appropriate personnel. An example of a typical ICS structure can be referenced in Appendix 4. The IC has the discretion to fill any positions in the ICS structure that may be needed. If the IC elects to not fill a position, he/she retains control and responsibility for the duties of that position. 
  3. Designate a support assistant who shall be responsible for:
    • - securing two telephone extensions for the EOC. 
    • - making available the appropriate office supplies. 
    • - screening and logging all incoming telephone calls. 
  4. 4. Integrate with other emergency response agencies. The ERC ensures that SURF’s IC enters into unified command with other outside emergency response agencies when those agencies establish an ICS structure. 


If an emergency requires an evacuation to ensure the safety of personnel, those personnel are to stop work immediately, evacuate, and proceed to the assembly point. 


Surface buildings occupied on a regular basis and designated laboratories (surface and underground) will have an assigned emergency warden. The emergency wardens will assist in the evacuation and accountability process. Reference the Emergency Wardens list for area-specific emergency wardens. 


As per 30 CFR § 57.11058 (MSHA) Check-in, check-out system. Each operator of an underground mine shall establish a check-in and check-out system which shall provide an accurate record of persons in the mine. These records shallbe kept on the surface in a place chosen to minimize the danger of destruction by fire or other hazards. Every person underground shall carry a positive means of being identified. 

As per OSHA 1926.800(c) Check-in/check-out. The employer shall maintain a check-in/check-out procedure that will ensure that above-ground personnel can determine an accurate count of the number of persons underground in the event of an emergency. However, this procedure is not required when the construction of underground facilities designed for human occupancy has been sufficiently completed so that the permanent environmental controls are effective, and when the remaining construction activity will not cause any environmental hazard or structural failure within the facilities. 

As per the regulations cited, a board is positioned near the collar or ramp of the Yates and Ross shafts, divided and marked into at least two areas denoting IN & OUT, provided with pegs or hooks on which tags can be hung. The tags (variously: brass) have a name that references an individual or alternately have a unique number that references a name on a sign-in sheet. When an individual goes underground, their tag is moved from the OUT to the IN. When an individual exits the underground, their tag is moved from the IN to the OUT. The other part of this system is a means of identification that the individual carries on his person, usually a metal tag affixed to a mine belt, alternately a metal tag with a unique number that references a name on a sign-in sheet. Whatever is used must be able to survive the underground conditions for a period to serve as a means of identification in the event of a prolonged rescue/recovery. 


If it is noticed that an individual has not brassed-out when the expectation is that the individual should not presently be underground, the person noting the exception is to inform the staff technicians and supervisors. The cause for a failure to brass-out may vary from may-have-just-forgotten-to-brass-out to still-underground-maybe-lost-

and/or-hurt. Depending on the circumstances and information available, the following actions are initiated: 

  1. Effort to communicate with the individual to determine the individual’s location and condition. 
  2. Converse with persons who may have knowledge of the individual’s last known location/condition. 
  3. Utilizing the available information to focus the efforts, initiate a search for the individual. 

If a search and rescue is initiated, normal Operations resources will be redirected to support that effort. 


Emergencies that require evacuation from the Davis Campus are coordinated by the 4850L Science Guide(s) who will determine if further evacuation from the Underground is required. Training on procedures specific to the Davis Campus is found in 4850L Davis Campus Site Specific Training . 


Underground emergencies that require evacuation will be coordinated by the ERC, acting IC, or in their absence, the hoist operator. The primary notification means for underground personnel is the release of stench into the underground from the top of the Yates and Ross shafts per the Stench System Release Steps . The secondary means of notification is telephone, leaky feeder phone system, and/or radio communication. The primary and secondary evacuation routes for the underground are provided in Evacuation Routes . Procedures for underground evacuations are found in SOP 0031 Underground Evacuations . 


Emergencies that require surface evacuation will be coordinated by the ERC or the IC. The notification means for surface personnel is radio, telephone, e-mail, fire alarms, manual horns, and/or verbal communication. The primary and secondary evacuation routes for the surface locations are provided in Evacuation Routes . 


A site-wide evacuation is ordered by SURF’s Laboratory Director and coordinated by the ERC or IC. Notification procedures and evacuation routes are described in Sections 5.5.2 and 5.5.3. 


Emergency wardens (for surface buildings), science guides (for designated laboratories underground); supervisors (for employees); project managers (for contractors); and guides (for visitors) are responsible to account for their charges in the event of an evacuation from a surface location or the underground. This includes recording the names of those evacuated and presenting that list to the ERC or IC. In the event of an underground evacuation, these individuals will help facilitate the brass-out process upon return to the surface. 

In the event of a major emergency, employees are responsible for contacting their supervisor and informing him/her of their location. Supervisors must account for the condition and location of all employees under their supervision. 

The ERC is responsible for assuring that all underground and surface personnel are accounted for using the Personnel Accounting Form and that non-essential surface personnel are isolated and safely away from the incident.


All media inquiries are directed to the SURF Communications Officer. The Laboratory Director is the spokesperson for SURF. The Laboratory Director may designate the Communications Officer to speak for SURF. 

Only under the direction of the Laboratory Director, or the Laboratory Director’s designee, shall anyone release written or verbal information to the public or media. 



The ERC (or the Incident Commander) is authorized to issue an “All Clear” for standard declared emergencies once it is determined that conditions leading to the event are alleviated, mitigated or contained, and unlikely to reoccur, and that all individuals are accounted for. Only the Laboratory Director can issue an “All Clear” for formally declared emergencies. 

If dangerous conditions still exist, or if an investigation is planned, the affected area of SURF’s property shall be secured and access limited to authorized personnel. Resumption of normal work activities is not allowed until the “Release to Normal Operations” has been issued. Limited work activities may be allowed in affected areas if approved by the Laboratory Director and agreed upon by the EHS Director. 

If necessary, the Laboratory Director will appoint a recovery manager to facilitate the recovery phase. A recovery manager is appointed in cases where significant oversight and recovery time is anticipated. All dates, times, and essential personnel involved in recovery operations must be recorded and included in a final Emergency Summary Report. 


The recovery phase returns affected areas back to normal operations. The recovery phase is managed by the ERC with assistance from the EHS Department or the recovery manager for more serious events. The recovery process consists of four steps: 

  1. Safety and Damage Assessment Once the emergency has been terminated, the affected areas are assessed for damage and safety concerns, including environmental issues. Any structural damage is evaluated by qualified engineers to determine the appropriate repairs. 
  2. If necessary, industrial hygiene and environmental testing is conducted to determine the extent of any chemical or biological contamination. 
  3. Incident Investigation and Reporting Concurrent with the safety and damage assessment, an incident investigation is conducted per the Incident Reporting, Response and Investigation policy. 
  4. Repair and Mitigation Safety issues or damages identified in the safety and damage assessment and incident investigation are prioritized for completion. Those items deemed critical to employee health and safety or essential for normal operations must be repaired or mitigated prior to the start of normal operations. The EHS Director or his/her designee makes this determination. 
  5. Release to Normal Operations Once the ERC or recovery manager has determined all safety concerns have been addressed and necessary repairs have been completed, a “Release to Normal Operations” is issued. The ERC is authorized to issue a “Release to Normal Operations” for emergencies with a standard declaration. The Laboratory Director must approve a “Release to Normal Operations” for any formally declared emergency. 


A final report is generated for all emergencies. The ERC (or recovery manager when appointed) in conjunction with the EHS Director is responsible for assembling this report and collecting all necessary signatures. 

The basis of the final report is an investigation report, as defined in the Incident Reporting,  Response and Investigation policy, but the final report also includes all other information and data associated with the incident, including details of the emergency termination and the findings from the safety and damage assessment. The final report includes all records from personnel involved with the emergency and response. Pertinent information includes: 

  •  description of the emergency event 
  •  time and place of the event 
  •  names of people involved 
  •  names of witnesses 
  •  exposure or injuries 
  •  property damage 
  •  remedial action proposed to rectify the situation 
  •  modifications to proposed remedial action implemented 
  •  success of remedial measures 
  •  follow-up activities 
  •  communication, verbal and written, with any legal personnel, regulatory agencies, emergency services, news media or general public 

The records from personnel involved with the emergency are submitted chronologically and contain all telephone calls, interactions with news media, emergency services, outside agencies, and all other persons. 



  • Emergency Management (EHS-3000-L1-03) 
  • Incident Reporting Response and Investigation (EHS-5000-L1-02) 
  • Surface Response Locations Map (EHS-3000-L4-04) 
  • Emergency Response Plan Maps 
  • Davis Campus Scenario Maps Situations & Responses 
  • POLICY Oxygen Deficiency Hazards 
  • Incident Specific Response Procedures (EHS-3000-L2-06) 
  • Underground Emergency Reporting System Flowchart (EHS-3000-L2-02) 
  • Surface Emergency Reporting System Flowchart (EHS-3000-L2-03) 
  • Crisis Communication Plan (EHS-3000-L1-04) 
  • ERC Guidelines and Tools (EHS-3000-L3-07) 
  • Incident Notification System (EHS-5000-L1-01) 
  • Incident Command System Guidance (EHS-3000-L3-08) 
  • Emergency Wardens (EHS-3000-L5-01) 
  • Stench System Release Steps (EHS-3000-L2-05) 
  • Evacuation Routes (EHS-3000-L2-07) 
  • SOP 0031 Underground Evacuations 
  • 4850L Davis Campus Site Specific Training 
  • Personnel Accounting Form (EHS-3000-L4-03)