Safety and Security stresses preparedness

The new digital clocks hanging from some campus building walls are not SPU’s attempts to look more modern or technologically advanced. In an emergency, the clocks will flash, beep loudly and spell out the type of crisis.

The clocks are part of an effort by Safety and Security to increase safety on campus. Students often think bad things in the news won’t happen to them, director of Safety and Security Mark Reid said.

"I’m sure the students down at Westmont were just doing what they always do, studying for finals and such, when suddenly there was a fire and it was upon them," Reid said.

Although students don’t necessarily have to worry about fires the same way as Westmont, there are still emergencies that can happen here at SPU at any time, he said.

"Here, earthquakes are probably the number one threat as a regional crisis, as well as severe weather and flooding," Reid said.

Violence and school shootings are also something universities today are concerned about, he said.

"We haven’t seen it at SPU yet, but it is prudent to be aware of all types of emergencies," he said.

Students can find basic emergency procedures for all types of situations in the "stop-think-act" books in classrooms and dorms on campus. The books are reviewed every year to ensure the information is current.

"It has everything from biohazard waste spills to armed intruders to medical emergencies," Reid said.

Students can ask Peer Advisers if they wish to review the books, and Reid encourages all to be familiar with the procedures they contain.

Reid also said students should take extra precautions on their own to prepare for emergencies.

One way to do this is to sign up for the SPU alert notification system, he said. This involves students submitting their cell phone numbers into the Banner Information System under the "personal menu." In the event of an emergency, messages are delivered to registered faculty, staff and students via text messaging.

"It’s really the only way right now to deliver information to that many students in an emergency," Reid said.

Signing up for the notification system also involves students updating their emergency contact information in Banner. This allows university officials to know who to contact in case of a disaster.

Some students feel skeptical about the SPU alert notification system.

Junior Sarah Smith worries about privacy.

"I would like to know more about it to make sure that my number is not given out," she said.

Senior Sharlena Dressler questioned the effectiveness of the plan. She recalled that, last spring, when the system was first tested, some students didn’t receive the text at all.

"It was our first trial run," Reid said, "and some students didn’t realize they needed to actually get on Banner and log themselves in. They thought it would just work."

Reid also said prepaid cell phone plans had trouble receiving the tests.

Reid said students gave more positive feedback during Safety and Security’s second test run of the alert notification system earlier this fall.

He encouraged students to prepare an emergency kit with food, a three-day water supply and medical supplies. Reid keeps his emergency kit in the car.

"You don’t know where you might be when an emergency happens," Reid said, "but if you’ve taken the right steps, like having a flashlight, you’ll be a lot less panicked."

For a more comprehensive list of what should be included in an emergency preparedness kit, check out the American Red Cross Web site at http://,1082,0_217_,00.html.

Reid stressed that students know where their residence hall and classroom fire exits are, as well as their evacuation locations.

"People need to figure out this information before an emergency," he said. "It’s a part of survival in an urban society."

Students should also have emergency phone numbers programmed into their phones, Reid said. Safety and Security’s emergency number is 206-281-2922. Reid encouraged students to call Safety and Security first if they’re in trouble.

"We can get here the fastest," Reid said, "and if there’s an emergency, we call the Seattle Police Department anyway."

Safety and Security is able to give better directions to places on campus, too, because they do it all the time, he said.

Finally, Reid suggested students prepare for an emergency by getting renter’s insurance. Some students might be covered through their parents’ homeowner’s policies, but they need to check it out, he said. If they are not covered, it’s still relatively inexpensive to buy, he said.

Although Reid said he hopes SPU students will never have to use their emergency knowledge, they still need to have it.

"Emergencies can happen anywhere," he said. "They may be different depending on where you are, but everyone needs to have a prepared mindset."

"Safety and Security is certainly working on better ways to communicate with people in cases of emergency," Reid said.

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Title: Safety and Security stresses preparedness | Author: Christina Ghan | Section: News | Published Date: 2008-11-19 | Internal ID: 5837