Safety shortcomings

Students feel there is room for growth with shelter-in-place drill

By on April 16, 2019

Quinnipiac students received an email from the Emergency Management team at roughly 10:50 a.m.  Thursday,  April 11, declaring that the university was in a shelter-in-place drill – meaning students were required to seek safety within the buildings they occupied.

However, during this drill, an issue with the university’s Rave alert system caused students to only be notified with an email, rather than the additional standard text alerts that many students have signed up to receive on their mobile devices.

Associate Vice President for Facilities Operations Keith Woodward explained the team’s motivation behind having the drill on campus.

“The Emergency Management Team has been preparing for the shelter-in-place drill for several weeks,” Woodward said. “To get ready for it, we considered several factors, including communications and minimizing the disruption to classes.”

Woodward described what went wrong during the original drill, causing alerts not to be sent.

“Despite our plans, there was a minor problem with the Rave alert system,” he said. “Our plan was to send a Rave alert, which includes a text, phone call and email, about the drill to the university community at 10:50 a.m. on Thursday, but a technical issue arose preventing the message from sending. The community did receive an email about the drill at 10:50 a.m. on April 11, from the QU News account, which is a supplementary communications platform we use to make sure we’re reaching all members of the university community.”

Sophomore physical therapy major Corinne Palumbo felt that improved communication could have led to better results during the drill.

“It’s hard with a drill like that because you can’t really give any warning,” Palumbo said. “Maybe a better broadcasting system [would improve the drill], because not everyone is on their phones all the time. I know I didn’t check my phone until a few minutes after it had already been going on.”

Palumbo mentioned that she believes another factor that can improve communication would be having authorities stationed outside of campus buildings to make students who are outside aware of the situation.

Woodward explained that one of the team’s primary goals in conducting the drill was to bring awareness to the drill in case such an emergency arises on the campus in the future.

“The goal of the training was multi-faceted,” he said. “I believe we achieved a high level of awareness prior to the drill by educating the community about the meaning of shelter in-place and resharing the university’s emergency guide.”

Woodward mentioned that following the communication error that occurred during the first drill, a second drill took place beginning at 1:47 p.m. that afternoon – with the Rave alert issue fixed.

Woodward also explained that despite the university’s best efforts to reach as many students as possible, there are 1,266 undergraduate students who have not registered to receive the Rave alerts.

Sophomore biology major Isabella Vega said that she was walking outside and did not see the original email – which led her to be confused on what course of action to take. She feels that the drill was overall not very effective.

“I think it was kind of useless because I didn’t know what was happening,” Vega said. “I thought it meant just stay where you are, but my friend told me that we had to go to a classroom or something. I didn’t know that.”

Palumbo feels that, while the drill is beneficial to have on campus, the university has work to do to improve future shelter in place drills.

“I think it was a good drill to have… I think it was a little hard though because people were just walking across campus, especially to class,” Palumbo said. “So it’s not really realistic to have people stop walking to class. I know I was walking back from the gym and I was like ‘I have to go back to my room.’”

Woodward explained that there will likely be shelter in place drills in the future, while also seeing room for growth in any future drills.

“Overall, I think the drill was successful, but we have some takeaways to improve the process that will be discussed by the Emergency Management Team,” he said.

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About Jeremy Troetti

Associate News Editor
Email: jeremy.troetti@quinnipiac.edu
LinkedIn: Jeremy Troetti
Year: 2019
Major: Journalism