Emergency Response Guide
When calling about an emergency:
- Give your name. (Confidentiality will be respected.)
- Give your extension or other phone number where you can be reached (cell phone)
- Give building name and room number or other specific location.
- Describe the condition clearly and accurately.
- Do not hang up! You may be an important link in an emergency. Other information may be needed and special instructions may be provided. Let the person you are talking to end the conversation.
General Building Evacuation Procedures:
- Fire alarms, and verbal warnings will be used to sound a building evacuation.
- Walk quickly; do not run.
- Exit via stairways. Never use the elevator, as you may be trapped or let out into a danger area.
- Seek out and give assistance to any disabled persons in the area, if you can do so safely. If you cannot, alert emergency personnel with their exact location and condition.
- Follow instructions of Public Safety Officers and other first responders.
- If time permits:
- Turn off electrical appliances.
- Close room doors behind you.
- Bring your keys with you.
- Go to an open outside area, away from the building. Gather with other exiting building occupants, keeping paths clear for emergency vehicles.
- Wait for instructions from emergency personnel, and do not re-enter the building until allowed to do so by Public Safety Officers.
- In emergencies, people tend to try to exit buildings by the same route they entered, even when that exit is blocked. Learn alternate exit routes from buildings you regularly occupy.
Shelter in Place:
In severe weather events or other emergencies, the safest course may be to shelter in place within buildings. If conditions indicate, or instructed to do so:
- Seek shelter in the lowest levels of buildings or an interior hallway, remaining clear of exterior windows and doors.
- Keep away from overhead fixtures, filing cabinets, book shelves, and other large objects that may fall over.
- Exit auditoriums, and gymnasiums and seek shelter elsewhere in building.
- In general, do not leave the building until instructed to do so by emergency personnel.
- Upon leaving building, if damage is evident, be alert for debris, power lines, gas leaks, and other safety hazards.
Heat and toxic smoke from fire build up with surprising speed, quickly blocking escape paths. Always evacuate immediately when you hear the fire alarm.
If a fire starts in the room you're in:
- Leave the room and close the door behind you to keep smoke and flames out of the hall.
- Sound the fire alarm by activating the nearest pull station.
- Leave the building by the closest exit. (Note: In residence halls, pull the alarm to alert others even if there is an individual smoke detector in the room, as the closed door will delay activation of the central alarm.)
- Call Public Safety from a safe location.
- Alert Public Safety to anyone who you know may be in the building who might require additional assistance leaving the area because of a disability.
If you hear a fire alarm:
- Go to the door of your room and feel the door with your hand, if the door or the knob is hot, leave it shut and:
- Let someone know you are in the room. If the phone works, call Public Safety.
- If your window can be opened, hang a bed sheet or similar item out the window to signal the fire department, but close the window against smoke as necessary.
- Seal openings around hallway doors with cloth items (towels or sheets if available). If there is a source of water, keep towels and door wet.
- If the door is not hot, check the hall. If you can leave safely, take your keys with you, close the door behind you and go to the nearest clear exit. Use an alternate route if your path is blocked at any point.
- Do not use the elevator so as to avoid being trapped or let out into a fire area.
- If it is impossible to exit the building, it may be safer to return to your room, which is why taking your keys is important.
- If smoke blocks your path, there is often cleaner, cooler air nearer the floor level. Don't stand. Smoke and deadly gases rise.
- Fight a fire only if you believe you can put it out without risking your safety.
Evaluate the following before attempting to fight a fire on your own:
- If the fire is small enough for you to manage
- If an extinguisher is readily available
- If you are familiar with the operation of the extinguisher
- If it appears safe to do so (you can fight the fire without blocking your exit path)
Injury or illness:
- Immediately call Public Safety at x8333, or 610-328-8333
- Note any medical alert information which may be present on medic-alert jewelry, and report it to the dispatcher.
- Do not move an injured person unless absolutely necessary.
- Stay with the victim and assist as necessary until help arrives.
Hazardous Material Spill/Release:
- Report hazardous material/chemical spills or releases immediately to Public Safety. Try to describe the conditions and identify the material to the dispatcher.
Do not attempt to clean up spills of materials you believe to be hazardous. Even small spills of toxic, corrosive, flammable, or reactive materials can be dangerous. In laboratories and shops, refer to the Swarthmore College Laboratory Emergency Response Guide available in all science laboratory departments.
- Indoors: Close doors to the spill area and turn off sources of ignition. Leave the area immediately.
- Outdoors: If a vehicle leaks fuel or oil, turn off the engine and direct other vehicles away from the spill area, as vehicle engines may be a source of ignition. Stay upwind of any outdoor spills or releases into the air.
- Eye or skin contact: Flush the affected area immediately with running water. If a corrosive material comes in contact with the eyes, seconds count - use any available water source to wash away the contaminant. Have someone call Public Safety. Continue rinsing the skin or eyes until help arrives.
- Call Public Safety if the outage presents an emergency requiring immediate response. For non-emergency outages email email@example.com.
- Turn off appliances, tools, and computer equipment to prevent damage by voltage spikes or surges when power is restored, and to prevent accidents from unexpected restarting of equipment.
- Candles, lighters, and other open flame devices should not be used. Keep flashlights on hand for power outages.
If you observe standing or flowing water in a building, notify Public Safety. Avoid all contact with the water, since it presents a serious risk of electric shock and may be contaminated.
In the event of a campus emergency, Swarthmore College follows guidelines set forth in its Emergency Response Manual, which enables College administrators to promptly and effectively alert and inform the community and the public when there is a clear and credible danger to the College community. These plans coincide with the College’s other safety and emergency plans that deal specifically with the operational implications of a crisis.
In order to ensure that the campus community is promptly notified of a significant emergency or dangerous situation involving an immediate threat to the health and safety of students, faculty, or staff, one or more of the following tools are used:
E-mail is used to send alert messages. However, the inability of the sender(s) to ensure that these messages are uniformly received by all recipients suggests that this alert function should be considered a supplement to all other alerting tools.
Fire alarms alert people to an emergency and exist in every campus building. They work at all times of day, all year long, and can be building-specific.
Word of Mouth: With more than 90 percent of the student body living on campus and a manageable campus size, runners would be deployed door-to-door and/or to designated spaces on campus to post flyers and to spread the work directly.
Blackboard Connect Service is an externally hosted service (at the NTI Group in Sherman Oaks, Ca.) and can be used to notify students, faculty, staff and other groups en masse. Message delivery formats include cell phones, text messaging, e-mail, voice mail (to cell, home, dorm, and/or office phones) and text-telephone devices to contact persons with hearing or speech disabilities. Messages are normally initiated through a Web interface, but the system is also usable from a telephone in the event that network connectivity is disrupted.
Media: The Communications Office coordinates and responds to all media requests and creates and distributes appropriate materials to them via multiple communications and mechanisms.
Voicemail Broadcast Messages: The College’s voicemail system has the ability to send a single voicemail messages to all students, all faculty and staff, or to the full campus community. These alerts will activate the message light on all campus Cisco phones.
Web: The Web is perhaps the best tool for keeping all of the College’s constituencies informed about a crisis in a detailed, ongoing, and focused way. An emergency "space" on the front page of the College’s Web site can be activated to display brief alert-announcements. These announcements will also appear on the student and faculty/staff dashboards on the Web. This emergency tool can also be used in the context of a more urgent circumstance. The College also maintains an externally-hosted emergency website at http://emergency.swarthmore.edu/. This site, which is always live, can be updated with information about an ongoing emergency; otherwise, it will indicate that the campus is operating under normal conditions.
Safety alerts are issued through the Public Safety Department. Once aware of an immediate danger, the department decides on the proper method and timing to notify proper authorities and initiate other communication required to safeguard the campus. This includes the use of any of the available alert mechanisms. The department is assisted in crisis communications efforts by a team of five individuals known as the 24/7 Team. The 24/7 Team is available at any time, night or day.
The 24/7 Team is comprised of the Vice President for Facilities, the Vice President for Human Resources, the Dean of Students, the Director of Public Safety, the Vice President of Communications, the Executive Assistant for Facilities and services, or their designees. Members of 24/7 take the initial lead in implementing the appropriate response plan, assessing the severity of the crisis, reviewing all available information, delegating responsibility where appropriate, and ensuring that the information needs of various constituencies are met. The Executive Assistant to the VP of facilities maintains a written record of actions and decision for after-action review and archival purposes.
Implementation of these tools is with the understanding that they are best used in combination with each other. The type of emergency or crisis ultimately drives which tools are used. The College may opt to delay notification if and when it would compromise efforts to contain the emergency. However, the College will routinely, without unreasonable delay, determine the appropriate content of the notification and initiate the notification system.
A reminder that this information is available and how to access it is publicized annually to students and staff. A standing College committee meets regularly and among a variety of related tasks reviews emergency response procedures and informs key staff about effective communications skills and protocols. This committee also assures that annual training exercises are conducted that both test and train community members in emergency response and evacuation procedures.
All members of the College community are reminded that, for the system to be effective, contact information provided to the College’s databases should be up to date. To update emergency contact information, first log in to mySwarthmore at https://myswat.swarthmore.edu/homepage.htm, then select the link to Update Crisis Communications (Blackboard-CONNECT) Contact Information".