With a flood of new and returning Fanshawe students for the upcoming fall semester, the campus becomes an environment where everything is new for a short while.
Brent Arseneault wears a number of hats under Fanshawe’s Emergency Management Office. He is apart of emergency planning, a Fire and Life Safety Specialist and the Student Emergency Response Team (SERT) Coordinator.
“People need to know we’re here on campus.” Brent Arseneault of Fanshawe Emergency Management
Fanshawe’s Emergency Management is an integral part of the college community. They provide education on evacuation protocol, fire extinguisher training, severe weather alerts and fire alarm response among many other services.
“You name it, we’re responsible for it.”
Arseneault is a former member of Fanshawe Security. During his tenure, he was apart of the team that conceptualized an app for everything students would need to feel safe.
“I had actually reached out and asked students, ‘what’s important to you and what information do you need to keep you safe on campus?’ We did some surveys and got some feedback to know that we’re going to provide an app that was geared towards students.”
Although the Stay Safe Fanshawe app was created in mind for student safety, Arseneault says that it’s more than useful for staff as well.
The app comes with a wallet of tools. It has bus schedules, taxi numbers, a connection to the guidance and counseling, and student life centre offices.
Another component built into the application is a property identification tag. Arseneault explains that personal property, like a bike or a laptop, can be registered with campus security. They record the serial number and make of one’s property. If that item is stolen or missing, the recorded serial number assists in the investigation to retrieve it.
“The biggest key for this app is that it provides you with a push notification. So if something were to happen on campus, it will send it to your phone without the app actually having to be on.”
These notifications would include severe weather alerts, fire alarms and any other message that would benefit from being released immediately.
Arseneault says the flux of students, primarily in the beginning of fall and winter semesters, is particularly difficult.
New students and some returning students may not know of protocol during a fire alarm.
At all Fanshawe campuses they have evacuation assembly areas. All maps that are located inside Fanshawe buildings have these areas highlighted to find the closest site.
The college has a two-stage fire alarm system. Once an alarm is triggered, Emergency Services immediately begins to investigate the cause of the alarm.
“During the alert stage we’re asking mobility impaired persons to begin the evacuation at that point in time.”
After people around the campus have reached the assembly points, Emergency Service and city emergency responders will continue to investigate the source of the alarm and potential fire.
Arseneault says when the alarm sounds, to immediately leave the building.
“Don’t send message, don’t tweet, don’t record things. Get out of the building”
The most difficult message for Arseneault and Emergency Services to reinforce is the sense of urgency and risk factor.
“People believe things to be dismissive or to be a drill or a false alarm. They’ve preconceived something without actually knowing what’s happening.”
Arseneault says that a medium size room with basic furniture has a burn time of 2-3 minutes, leaving a small window for people to properly and safely evacuate the premises.
“We treat everything as actual. Your safety is paramount so get out of the building. Don’t make an assumption that it is a drill. Don’t make an assumption that’s false in anyway shape or form.”
Arseneault says that if there is any inclination of a fire, where smoke may be visible or other potential signs of something dangerous is occuring, to pull the fire alarm. He understands the hesitation, but says if someone believes something to be potentially dangerous to pull the pull-station.
“All throughout elementary school, we’re taught that box on the wall is a bad thing. It’s red, we’ve been taught ‘don’t touch, don’t go near it’.
“It’s something that will potentially save your life and others”
For the upcoming fall semester, Arseneault is asking students from all programs to apply for the Student Emergency Response Team (SERT). It’s a volunteer program that include hands-on training to assist with campus emergencies that may require first aid.
“It’s a great way to develop professionally while augmenting your education in a tactile environment. You’re helping other students, hands-on, which is key to us.”