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Evac plans lacking in class

by Randy Wilde

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This Thursday, San Diego State will participate in the Great California ShakeOut earthquake drill. No evacuations will be staged, but students will be asked to practice the “Drop, Cover and Hold On” protocol. Knowing how to hide under a desk is all well and good, but students are given zero instruction on what to do in case of fire, a campus intruder or some other kind of emergency.

Am I the only one who has glanced at the emergency evacuation plans posted in classrooms and wondered why we never cover such potentially lifesaving information in class? How many times have any of us practiced or at least discussed any kind of emergency response in college classrooms?

In high school we would have fire evacuation and intruder drills fairly often. Why should college be any different? The only difference is an even higher density of life: All the more reason to be even more protected.

Sadly, there have been a number of shootings at universities around the country in recent years. Last month’s blackout may not have been incredibly damaging, but it was a reminder we must be prepared for all types of emergencies. SDSU could do much more to make students and professors part of the emergency response process. We all need to be aware of the plans that are in place to keep us safe.

What’s the point of the evacuation plan on the wall if no one ever gives it a second glance? Once an emergency begins is not a good time to start studying. People will panic and could potentially make disastrous mistakes if they have no prior understanding or training.

Every classroom has a different situation in terms of available cover and evacuation routes. Every building has a different layout plan. Professors and students must go through emergency plans in each class every semester. If actually rehearsing procedures would be too disruptive, we can at least devote some time to discussing them.

It’s common knowledge the first day of every class usually consists solely of reading through the syllabus. This relatively untapped time slot, which happens to be the only class every student will likely show up to, would be a perfect time to spend 15 minutes or so going through evacuation procedures and emergency responses.

This simple measure would be the best way to prepare us for a variety of scenarios quickly and effectively. We all know how to duck under a desk but no one has ever taken the time to let us in on the bigger plans.

I would hope at least the professors are required to be aware of building plans and evacuation procedures. But what if something happens to the professor during an actual emergency? It really wouldn’t be much of a hassle to take a few minutes of one class each semester to talk about emergency preparedness. The risk is real and it’s time we got ready.

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