Written by: Henry Tran, Coordinating News Editor

On January 23, Simon Fraser University Safety and Risks Services (SRS) announced that it has changed its emergency protocol and added new safety services for the SFU community.

The new emergency protocol states that in urgent situations, SFU students, faculty, and staff should call 911 directly instead of contacting Campus Public Safety and they can make the call on any phone. However, the SRS recommends that the call should be made through a campus phone if possible because Campus Security is able to locate where the call was made to potentially help resolve the situation, according to its website. Every classroom at SFU is equipped with a phone, the website further adds.

Previously, the university’s recommendation to its students and staff in emergency situations was to contact Campus Public Safety first before reaching out to external emergency services because the layout of SFU can be difficult for emergency responders to navigate, according to Tim Rahilly, SFU vice-provost and associate vice-president, students and international, in a previous Peak article.

However, many students voiced their concerns about this protocol following the two campus incidents that took place in Fall 2018. One involved a student entering a classroom and behaving violently toward their peers. In another, a student passed away due to medical complications during an on-campus exam. Among other concerns, students expressed that campus safety personnel were slow to respond and did not have the same level of training as paramedics.

SEE MORE: SFU student alleges university did not provide adequate aid following campus violence incident”

SEE MORE: “SFU talks safety protocols after student passes away on Burnaby campus”

As a result of the feedback from the SFU community, SFU held an internal meeting in October 2018 to review its emergency protocols messaging and it took the university approximately three months to implement this new change, according to Mark LaLonde, SFU chief security officer.

“We heard from students, faculty and staff on their experience with our messaging, and also from our health and safety committees. After consulting with BC Ambulance, fire, police and E Comm, the regional 911 communications hub for the Lower Mainland, we determined a new approach to simplify the messaging,” said LaLonde in an email interview with The Peak.

According to a press release by the university, all three campuses at SFU now share the same phone numbers for its emergency line (for urgent and medical-related purposes) and non-emergency line (for assistance with Safe Walk and security). The numbers are 778-782-4500 and 778-782-7911, respectively.

In the past, the numbers for the emergency line and non-emergency line were different for each SFU campus, and those numbers will continue to work, stated LaLonde.

“The new protocol is meant to simplify messaging of what to do in event of an emergency, and remind our community of how they can access information relating to safety, emergencies and security,” stated LaLonde.

When asked how this new protocol is more effective compared to the one SFU previously had, LaLonde replied, “The new protocol is simpler and easier for everyone to remember and activate in event of an emergency.” The SFU community will continue to have access to Campus Security on a 24/7 basis despite the changes made to SFU’s emergency protocol, according to a media release by the university.

In addition to the new emergency protocol, the university will display new emergency posters at all SFU classrooms, provide updated “emergency contact key-tags and safety information postcards” to faculty and staff, as outlined by a press release by the university. The university also hired a new security vendor to increase security resources and dispatch at SFU, the press release further adds.

“Our intention is to enhance community understanding of how to increase their safety and how SFU can best support them in an emergency,” LaLonde concluded.

With files from SFU News