Emergency Preparedness

No matter the precautions taken, it is obvious that no human is completely immune to all types of danger. This Valentine’s Day, February 14th, will mark one year since the deadly massacre in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida where 17 students and staff were shot to death by a former student. Since then, 2018’s California wildfire season ended up being the most deadliest fire in the state, causing numerous deaths, destruction, and many facilities, including University of the Pacific, to shut down until the smoke had cleared. Sometimes, danger comes when most unexpected; however, it is a crucial responsibility to know how to proceed when it comes your way.

In order to prepare students and faculty, UoP’s Pacific Alert Team, which is in charge of overseeing all emergencies on campus, developed an Emergency Operations Manual, which details what to do during various types of emergencies, according to an email sent out by Public Safety.  Currently, the Department of Public Safety is hosting emergency preparedness training that requires all staff from all three campuses to attend. The sessions are one hour long and thoroughly explain how to deal with various emergency situations. Training sessions are offered six times throughout January and February. This is the first year these training sessions have been implemented.

The first of the six sessions was held on January 17th, 2019 at the DeRosa University Center Ballroom B. Staff lined up by the door to check in. There were murmurs of annoyance as not all wanted to come.

Mike Belcher, Chief & Executive Director for Public Safety, lead the event explaining what do during a plethora of emergencies. Videos demonstrating what to do during an active shooting sprinkled with some dark humor lightened the mood in the audience.

Belcher emphasized that during the event of an emergency, students will look to staff, such as their professors, for what to do. “Even though it’s been 11 years since Columbine, students have always had guidance from their [grade] school teachers. They will look to you for guidance. They will look to you on what to do next,” says Belcher. The staff was detailed on how to lock doors, exit appropriately, and how to call for help, etc.

When asked about the most important lesson that he hoped the audience gained from the session, the Chief spoke about being alert and aware. “As students on campus, registering the locations of where the emergency blue lights are and making a note how to exit anytime you enter a room is part of being aware of your surroundings,” says Belcher. Ultimately, the emergency preparedness session heavily stress on this: the safety of our students and staff during a crisis depends us acting fast, knowing what to do, and working together. “Listen for any dangerous or illicit activity and report them. We need to take responsibility for our own safety,” he added.

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Jo Ann Kirby

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