Concept of Operations

The Concept of Operations (CONOPS) section explains, in very broad terms, the process and strategy involved in preparing, responding, recovering, and mitigating against the impacts of hazards that threaten the University.   In developing its strategy, the University has analyzed potential threats and likely operations that would result from these threats.  Each operation was further analyzed to identify vital functions that would be used in response operations.  From this analysis, Functional Annexes were identified that describe the process for how each function is performed.   Key units, departments, and divisions that possess the skills and knowledge necessary to perform these functions in day-to day operations were assigned primary or supporting roles in performing each function during emergency operations. The CONOPS section will describe how these functions are applied and what activities take place to enhance operational capability during each phase of emergency management.

The image below describes how Functional Annexes are activated and applied to manage and respond to an emergency depending on the requirements at that time.  The rest of the CONOPS section will describe in very general terms the University’s emergency management strategy and how it is maintained and applied during the activation, preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation phases of emergency management.
More detailed information on each function can be found in the Functional Annexes at the end of this plan.

More detailed information on each function can be found in the Functional Annexes at the end of this plan.


To ensure that the University’s EMP meets the needs of the organization and the community it serves, the following priorities have been set:

  1. Assistance for injured personnel
  2. Safety of students, faculty, other academic appointees, staff, visitors, and all others present
  3. Mitigation of damage, including the safety and protection of research assets
  4. Communication with University constituencies and downstream customers (e.g., University of Chicago Medicine)
  5. Recovery and restoration of academic and research operations

Special Populations

The University of Chicago and its staff encompass individuals with varying backgrounds, including those with functional limitations or disabilities.  The University is an American with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant organization; however, the onset of an emergency has the potential to complicate existing disabilities and render standard methods of accommodating special populations insufficient. Accordingly, the EMP and its Functional Annexes recognize the needs of functionally limited populations when developing incident management strategies.

The University’s vulnerability analysis analyzes the type of special populations on campus and assesses the level of risk relative to common hazards in the area.  This analysis forms the basis for planning to meet the needs of these populations. 

The University asks all asks all individuals who may need assistance in an emergency to self-identify.  Once an individual has self-identified, the University will work with that individual to educate them on emergency procedures.   Specific details on how special populations are accommodated for in each function are available in the EMPs Functional Annexes.


The University’s Emergency Management Program will work with the Office of Legal Counsel in consultation with the Policy Group to answer and resolve any legal questions that arise from emergency operations.

Comprehensive Approach

The EMP uses a comprehensive approach to emergency management that incorporates all phases of emergency management and accounts for all individuals working at or attending the University.  Accordingly, the CONOPS section will be divided into the following sections:

  • Notification and Activation
  • Preparedness Operations
  • Response Operations
  • Recovery Operations
  • Mitigation Operations

The following subsections summarize the strategy for each phase of the emergency including a description of expected actions.