The University of Delaware has brought together the police department, Environmental Health and Safety staff, and local Aetna Hose and Hook and Ladder to conduct emergency drills before students move into the halls of residence.
Christopher Jane pictures
September 23, 2022
Emergency personnel provide resident assistants and other advice and protocols to UD housing personnel to deal with potential danger
The course was compiled on August 23 and administered by the UD Police Department, UD Environmental Health and Safety and staff from Aetna Hose, Hook and Ladder.
“For most students entering campus this fall, this will be their first time away from home and alone,” said Kyle Kokozka, a fire safety and prevention specialist in Environment, Health and Safety. Students who live in our halls of residence rely heavily on the support of their regional associations [resident assistants]. It is imperative that we prepare our regional associations for any emergency they may face.”
Resident assistants are upper-level students who live with other students in university residence halls and learning how to respond in emergencies is part of their training to keep students safe.
UD Fire Marshal Kevin McSweeney said: “A fire or other evacuation emergency has occurred in a residence hall of hundreds of student residents. Students practiced real-time evacuation, gathered at a designated meeting place and witnessed the response of Aetna FD with fire engine and peaceful truck crews. Training staff to help organize an orderly evacuation to a site 200 feet away is imperative; the goal is to keep residents away from the building.”
Additional modules included fire extinguisher training—which taught RAs to use the PASS method (pull, routing, pressure, sweep) with water extinguishers to put out propane-powered fires—and cooking safety, in which RAs were shown how to put out a stove fire using a pot or pan lid.
The safety program included a discussion of how to use a water fire extinguisher to put out a propane fire.
UDPD sergeant Bill Wentz led the final unit on campus safety topics, including a display of exploding dogs. He also answered questions from the accommodation and housing staff.
“Many students have questioned how our police department is dealing with the growing calls for incidents of a mental health crisis among students,” Wentz said. “The RA was surprised to hear that the Police Department trains for these types of service calls and has 10 experts trained in crisis negotiation officers from among our teams and special units.”
UD’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety has provided information for resident aides to help them avoid and prepare for emergencies.
“UDPD is very excited about building relationships with our Residence Life employees,” he said. “It is essential that our Rwandese military feel comfortable talking to our officers during incidents throughout the year. They are important in helping us in our mission and are our extra eyes and ears among the students.”
In addition to raising fire safety awareness and emergency evacuation information, Safety Training Night partners urged students to download the Live Safe app and contact the UDPD for a safety escort if needed.
“Campus safety is of paramount importance to everyone here at the university,” Kokozka said. “We definitely want our students, staff, faculty, and visitors to serve as a gateway for others in the community to continue spreading safety messages and be at the forefront of helping others stay safe.”