Disaster Response (PEAT)

The Pre-Entry Assessment Team (PEAT) is the UW's first responder disaster team that consists of members of EH&S and UW Tacoma Safety and Security.

Following a disaster, our 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. We are equipped to operate for up to 72 hours without outside assistance including portable electrical power, food, water and sanitation facilities. We are also capable of operating at night and in adverse weather.

How does PEAT prepare for disaster response?

Our ability to respond quickly and effectively depends on how well the team prepares. We conduct 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.

For more information about UW emergency preparedness visit the UW Emergency Management Web site.

Why does the UW need a disaster response team?

The 2001 Nisqually earthquake prompted better disaster preparation at the UW. It became apparent shortly after the quake that the UW did not have the capability to screen buildings for releases of hazardous materials and clear areas for reentry. Given that many UW buildings contain hazardous materials for research and clinical applications, and additional earthquakes are likely to occur, a pre-entry assessment team was deemed a necessary component in the UW's disaster response plan.

Even minor incidents like the Nisqually earthquake have the potential to cause hazardous material releases without doing significant damage to buildings. In this earthquake scenario, we quickly perform a room-by-room scan for chemical spills and other hazards and help clear buildings for re-entry. In the event of a major earthquake, we provide vital support to Fire and Rescue Teams. Many PEAT members are also EH&S staff with detailed knowledge of building layouts and potential hazards in over 3,500 laboratories. With the ability to enter even structurally compromised buildings and quickly monitor for chemicals and other hazards, we 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, the team helps ensure business continuity and may help save lives.

Pre-Entry Assessment Team Drill

This time lapse video was taken during a drill on the UW Tacoma campus in September 2017. The drill was intended to practice EH&S's response to a chemical spill disaster incident.


Environmental Programs Contact

(206) 616-5835