UC Davis examines emergency services, notification systems

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UC Davis examines emergency services, notification systems

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<b>Chancellor urges students in need to seek assistance</b>

By: Talia Kennedy
Posted: 4/24/07

In the wake of the Apr. 16 shootings at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, students across the nation are asking, "Could something similar happen at my school?"

The implications of the query, posed by many at UC Davis, can be difficult to comprehend. But in an e-mail sent Monday to the entire campus community, Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef said it is a question he is trying to answer.

"I know from some of the questions you&#39;ve asked this past week that it&#39;s hard for us all not to feel more vulnerable now," he wrote. "You&#39;ve asked about our preparedness for such a circumstance, about how you would be kept informed, and about how such a tragedy might be prevented. The campus is doing lots, but that&#39;s not to say there isn&#39;t more to do."

Vanderhoef went on to say the UC Davis Police Department and the UC Davis Fire Department have been trained in rapid response to emergency situations such as the one that unfolded last week at Virginia Tech, when senior English major Cho Seung-Hui, 23, went on two shooting rampages, killing 32 students and faculty members before turning a gun on himself. Vanderhoef said the UCDPD is developing a new community-response program to help inform locals "what to do in the event of a critical incident like Virginia Tech&#39;s."

The way students, faculty and staff are informed of campus emergencies may also soon be changing. In an interview last week, Lisa Lapin, the assistant vice chancellor for university communications, said UC Davis&#39; current emergency-notification systems are less than ideal.

"We have a system that can dial all campus phone numbers, but it takes three hours," she said. "We can also send e-mails to everyone, but it also takes three hours."

In today&#39;s age of high-speed technology, many may wonder why some of the top universities in the nation can&#39;t immediately notify their students of a threat on campus. At Virginia Tech, it took hours for students to receive e-mails informing them of the events that had transpired the morning of Apr. 16, when Seung-Hui killed two students in a residence hall. By the time many had opened their e-mails, 31 more people were dead.

In his e-mail to the UC Davis campus community, Vanderhoef said the way UC Davis affiliates learn of emergency situations will improve.

"We currently can deliver urgent notices to you via e-mail, campus telephones, an emergency telephone hotline (530-752-1011), the [World Wide] Web (ucdavis.edu), our KDVS 90.3 FM radio station, and cars equipped with bullhorns," he wrote. "We are revitalizing a network of emergency-response coordinators for every campus building, and investigating the possibility of improving cell phone reception in several high-traffic campus buildings. We are also exploring a system for automatically sending text, voice and e-mail messages, and investigating the possibility of installing sirens and of engaging amateur radio operators to assist in emergencies."

In addition to emergency-notification improvements, Vanderhoef reminded students that counseling services are available on campus. UC Davis&#39; Counseling and Psychological Services in 219 North Hall provides mental- and emotional-health services; the Student Crisis Response Team, a university organization, meets regularly to assist in deescalating potential crisis situations. Similar services are also available for faculty and staff, Vanderhoef said.

The Campus Violence Prevention Program, a subunit of the UCDPD, provides victim advocacy and information to students. Its office is located near Hutchison Field adjacent to the Transportation and Parking Services office.

Vanderhoef urged students to seek counseling or other services should they need assistance.

"[I]t&#39;s important that we take care of one another and of ourselves, especially at times of major tragic events," his e-mail said. "We&#39;ve had such a trauma this past week and, for some, it may be a while before its full, sad impact is felt. If you&#39;d find it helpful to talk with a counselor, or are concerned about a friend or colleague, don&#39;t hesitate to be in touch with CAPS.... They very much want to help."

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Original Source:<a href=http://www.californiaaggie.com/home/index.cfm?event=displayArticlePrinterFriendly&uStory_id=58895f56-6018-41d7-b097-fb316efae644>The California Aggie - April 24, 2007</a>

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Talia Kennedy

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The California Aggie

Date

2007-08-23

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Sara Hood

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Eddie Lee <editor@californiaaggie.com>

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eng

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Talia Kennedy, "UC Davis examines emergency services, notification systems," in The April 16 Archive, Item #1199, http://www.april16archive.org/items/show/1199 (accessed November 1, 2014).