Concordia Kicks Emergency Preparedness Week Up a Notch

It’s Emergency Preparedness Week at Concordia, and the man in charge of it, Concordia Senior Advisor on Emergency Management Darren Dumoulin, sounds like a man beset by constant worry.

Perhaps that’s the sort of air that comes with the position. His job, essentially, is to spend a lot of time thinking about all the terrible, horrible things that could happen to you and your fellow students on Concordia property.

Of course, he manages to find time to be concerned about emergencies outside of that scope, too. But primarily his job is to plan for emergencies on campus.
According to him, it’s a job that’s gotten a bit harder recently.

“We’ve been seeing the numbers and the amount of students that have opted in to the Emergency Notification System drop off,” he admitted. “So something that we’d like to do is get people involved and sign up for emergency notifications so that if something—God forbid—goes bad, we can reach people.”

It’s in response to that drop-off, among other things, that Concordia is stepping up Emergency Preparedness Week this year to more than just a few informational kiosks.

The Service de sécurité incendie de Montréal will be sending its firefighters to Concordia to participate in demonstrations, including having the “spider men” technical rescue team rappel down the outside of the Hall Building on Sept. 26.

That day, students can also get free fire extinguisher training, and use defibrillators and even participate in the “Fire Fighter Challenge”—completing an obstacle course while dressed in full firefighter gear. Participants will receive a free First Aid kit.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation will also be on hand on Thursday to offer free 30-minute CPR courses throughout the day in the EV Building atrium. The course will include defibrillator and mouth-to-mouth training and, for $5.00, students will be able to get a Heart and Stroke card to certify their participation.

While Dumoulin said his team does mandatory emergency training for Concordia staff and students who work in labs, it’s everyone else that he’s concerned about.

Getting the word out is a process made harder by a legal aspect of text messaging notifications, for one. Making emergency notification texts mandatory, Dumoulin said, is “hard to do.”
“There’s legislation in Canada that prevents us from opting people in automatically into a text-messaging system.”

Nevertheless, he said, “As of January, the text-messaging thing will be part of the registration process. […] During the registration online, [students] will be asked, ‘Would you like to do this?’ So they’ll all go through the process as they’re registering online, which hopefully will help quite a bit.”

It’s just getting people to think, ‘Yeah, what if? What if something else happens? What if over the PA system they told us to shelter in place? Then what would I do?’”
– Darren Dumoulin, Senior Advisor, Emergency Management

In the mean time, students who register for emergency text message notifications, or who log in to update their information, will be eligible to win a free iPad.

In the week leading up to Emergency Preparedness Week, fire drills were conducted in different Concordia buildings every day. Though that might not seem like cutting-edge emergency prevention, Dumoulin thinks it’s a necessary step, and one that has a potential upside.

“It’s that ‘what if’ question, getting people to take a few minutes to think about it. Because generally speaking, [students have] been doing fire drills since kindergarten. It goes well, people are used to it and they go through the motions,” he said.

“Part of my deal is to try to get them to think beyond the fire drills. Fire drills, yes, that goes on, but there are all sorts of other things that can happen as well. It’s just getting people to think, ‘Yeah, what if? What if something else happens? What if over the PA system they told us to shelter in place? Then what would I do?’”

The fact that Montreal is sheltered from most major catastrophes, according to Dumoulin, is a double-edged sword.

“Bringing people to [be aware] isn’t always easy, especially in our environment,” he said. “We don’t have the things that go on here that happen in other parts of the country. No major earthquakes, you know, we can’t get people to rally around the earthquake thing. We don’t have tornadoes all that often; we can’t do that.

“People have been lulled into thinking, ‘Well, nothing happens here. We get a bit of snow, that’s about it.’ It’s [about thinking] a little beyond that.”

Follow @concordia911 on Twitter for updates on Emergency Preparedness Week and news you need about emergencies at Concordia, and check out the Messaging tab under the MyConcordia menu at my.concordia.ca to make sure your contact information is up-to-date.

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