Sept. 9, 2019

Be prepared for UCalgary-wide evacuation drills Sept. 12 - 24

When will evacuation drills affect you this year? Here’s everything you need to know about annual evacuation drills at UCalgary, part of Safety and Wellness Week
An emergency warden.
Emergency Warden

Practice is paramount when it comes to emergency preparedness — in a high-pressure situation when time is limited, an ingrained knowledge of the basics makes all the difference.

According to Bob Maber, director of emergency management, priming students and employees to evacuate campus buildings quickly and safely is one of the main reasons Emergency Management runs evacuation drills during the first month of fall classes each year.

“There are a lot of unknowns during an emergency, but the best way to get out of your building shouldn’t be one of them,” says Maber. “Going through the motions — actually responding to the alarm, grabbing your keys and leaving the building — helps to lower stress and increase efficiency in the case of an actual incident.”

Evacuation drills are scheduled for every UCalgary building from Sept. 12 to 24 during regular daytime hours. Don’t miss your opportunity to form good evacuation habits — check out the detailed drill schedule and plan to participate in a drill for a building where you spend a lot of time. Most evacuation drills should only take about 30 minutes.

Here’s what you should know before they sound the alarm in your building:

The evacuation procedure

You should always respond to an alarm quickly, but there’s no rule preventing you from grabbing your personal effects if they’re close by. Take a moment to collect your coat, keys and identification. Students evacuating classrooms should bring their laptops and book bags if it’s safe to do so.

“In the case of a real evacuation, you never know how long it will be before you can re-enter your building,” says Maber. “If it’s safe, you should leave with the items you need to get yourself home.” 

Next, leave via the nearest exit and take the stairs — not an elevator — to the ground floor. Close the doors along your exit route and get out of the building.

Check out the procedure for building evacuation and other emergency procedures for: adverse weather, utility outage, hazardous material spill and an armed assailant on campus.

Assembly points

Assembly points for every building were carefully chosen to be near a washroom, large enough to fit everyone comfortably, and protected from the elements.

During emergencies, assembly points are an important part of the communication process.

“When everyone is in one place, emergency responders can easily provide real-time information,” says Maber. “It’s also the most direct way for evacuees to communicate to emergency responders.”

Check the complete list of building assembly points and know where to go during your upcoming evacuation drill.

The warden’s role and monitoring success 

Volunteer emergency wardens have been specially trained to support students, employees and visitors in case of an emergency.

Volunteer observers and wardens are tasked with assessing the success of building drills — they will record details about alarms, exits, fire extinguishers, signage and more. After the drills, the Emergency Management team will use their observations to assess the level of emergency preparedness for each building and highlight areas for improvement.

“Evacuation drills are vital to maintaining and improving our internal processes,” says Maber. “We practice so that we can improve — so we can be as effective as possible during actual incidents.”

Find out more about the Emergency Warden Program, including the wardens in your building and how to become an emergency warden.

Register now for Safety and Wellness Week sessions

The Risk Portfolio is hosting its annual Safety and Wellness Week from Sept. 16 to 19, to celebrate and revitalize UCalgary’s strong health and safety culture.

This year, students, faculty and staff are invited to two lunchtime keynote events — one on enhancing safety through situational awareness and one on preparing for the realistic worst-case scenario while travelling internationally. All UCalgary community members are also invited to sit down with Campus Security’s management team for an informal discussion about safety and security at the University of Calgary. 

Learn more and register for Safety and Wellness Week sessions.

Safety & Wellness Week Sept. 16-20. Risk invites students, faculty and staff to two different Keynote speakers and coffee with Campus Security.