What is PEAT?
The Pre-Entry Assessment Team (PEAT) is a first responder disaster team that consists of members of EH&S and two members from UW Tacoma Safety and Security.
Following a disaster, the team's primary function is to monitor for chemical releases and other hazards in buildings before reentry by staff or search and rescue teams. The team is equipped with Level B chemical response equipment including self contained breathing apparatus, chemically resistant suits and basic instruments for air monitoring and radiological detection. PEAT is equipped to operate for up to 72 hours without outside assistance including portable electrical power, food, water and sanitation facilities. The team is also capable of operating at night and in adverse weather.
The 2001 Nisqually earthquake prompted better disaster preparation at the UW. It became apparent within a few hours after the quake that UW did not have the capability to screen buildings for releases of hazardous materials and therefore release those buildings to search and rescue teams, let alone allow reentry by faculty and staff. Many buildings on the Seattle campus, including the entire Health Sciences Building and other science buildings, contain hazardous materials as well as time-sensitive research, classes, and a busy hospital and clinics. Fortunately that earthquake's damage was minimal, but larger earthquakes are very likely to occur in the near future. In response to this shortcoming, in 2003, UW granted funds to EH&S to establish PEAT.
A minor earthquake like the Nisqually earthquake might cause hazardous material releases without doing significant damage to buildings. In this scenario, PEAT quickly performs a room by room scan for chemical spills and other hazards and helps clear buildings for re-entry. In the event of a major earthquake, PEAT provides vital support to Fire and Rescue Teams. Since many PEAT members are also EH&S staff, they have detailed knowledge of building layouts and hazards for over 3500 laboratories. With the ability to enter even structurally compromised buildings and quickly monitor for chemicals and other hazards, PEAT can investigate critical access routes and evacuation corridors. This can speed recovery and rescue efforts and help ensure that rescuers do not become victims themselves. In both scenarios, PEAT helps ensure business continuity and may help save lives.
How does PEAT prepare?
The team's ability to respond quickly and effectively depends on how well the team prepares. PEAT conducts drills to practice disaster response operations each quarter. In addition to drills, team members have participated in training proved by the Office of Homeland Security, including classes on chemical, biological, explosive and radiological disaster events. Click on the links below to view the most recent drills:
For more information about UW emergency preparedness visit the UW Emergency Management Web site.