Attention! Campus safety check

Posted on Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A group of people in a gymnasium
By Johanne Adam

If you were in Vanier Hall or the Social Sciences Building September 30 before noon, you probably found yourself taking part of the emergency drill organized by the Emergency Management Program along with the City of Ottawa emergency services. The purpose of the drill was to test the University’s emergency protocols in order to improve them. 

The drill affected nearly 1,000 people and most reacted very well. “People have a better and better understanding of this type of thing,” said Claude Giroux, Protection Services director.  

Nevertheless, there’s room for improvement.

“We saw all sorts of reactions from people on site.

"Some people took a long time to leave buildings in spite of our instructions”, said Dana Fleming, Emergency Management Program coordinator. “It’s similar to what we saw October 22, 2014, during the campus lockdown caused by the violence downtown.”  

A shared responsibility

There are still many people who don’t know how to react to an emergency situation at the University. “We lose a lot of time explaining procedures, when our resources are limited,” said Fleming.

Whether it’s a drill or a real emergency, responders expect the full cooperation of people on campus. The Are you ready? page will help you know exactly what to do in either case.

Professors’ cooperation is also essential. They need to make sure they can receive uOttawa Alert messages in class. The messages are how Protection Services lets people at the University know there’s an emergency. “Some professors don’t allow smartphone or computers to be used in class. So they need to find an alternative. For example, we suggest leaving at least one device on during the class,” said Giroux.  

The drill also allowed responders’ work to be tested. Responders are primarily uniformed Protection Services staff, as well as the crisis management team. The drill was an opportunity to assess how effective their training has been.

Constant improvement

Protection Services is working closely with the IT team to develop new tools to reach as many people as possible on campus during an emergency. For example, if approved, we may see an outdoor loudspeaker system on campus.

Training targeting specific groups is also being looked at.

The Faculty of Social Sciences accepted to be a partner for this year’s drill without a second thought. A similar drill is planned for next year and Protection Services is already looking for its next partner.

“Security isn’t just the responsibility of Protection Services. It’s the responsibility of everyone on campus,” said Giroux.  

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