Tornadoes are known for sounding like freight trains as they leave a path of destruction. So do wildland fires, says Cherie Anderson. As a firefighter in California, Anderson fought such fires, which can send flames 100 feet in the air as they race across the state.
Intense work, definitely. "I absolutely fell in love with firefighting," said the Southern California native, who was one of only a handful of female firefighters when she began her career in 1990.
After working as a seasonal firefighter, she was hired full time with CalFire, California's largest fire department. In this role, she also worked as an emergency medical technician. She would later work as a public safety dispatcher before moving to Bloomington, where she is an emergency management coordinator for Indiana University.
"Now I'm in a completely different realm, but it's all tied together," she said. "I'm in the prevention stage and able to help students and staff learn about fire safety and a range of preparedness and safety skills."
What do IU Emergency Management and Continuity staff do? They support students and employees to ensure that as a university, we work together to "build, sustain and improve our capability to prepare for, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards that may impact our campus." They plan and prepare for threats that could occur to minimize the risks, and so staff and students know how to respond if they do happen.
She coordinated two fire safety events in residence halls this year, partnering with the Bloomington Fire Department and IU Residential Programs and Services. This summer, Anderson will be working with RPS to conduct “The Great Escape,” an event that will give resident assistants a taste of what it would be like to escape a smoke-filled room or hallway.
"I love it when I get a chance to interact with the students," she said. "My son is their age so I can relate to them. I'm passionate about safety, and it is my hope that the students learn valuable life lessons about how to respond to emergency situations."
Students and employees can learn important safety information through the IU Emergency Preparedness Certificate, a self-paced program to better prepare them for emergencies.
IUEMC is part of Public Safety and Institutional Assurance, which also includes the Indiana University Police Department, Environmental Health and Safety, and Physical Security and Access.