Mock chemical spill in Science Hall tests emergency communications

By Julia Ernst

A mock emergency drill that was conducted during early summer has provided Rider with a new outlook on campus safety and awareness.
“This is the second consecutive year in which Rider conducted a campus-wide emergency drill,” explained Debbie Stasolla, associate vice president for Planning, and Vickie Weaver, director of Public Safety, in a joint e-mail. “This year’s drill was held on the Lawrenceville campus in collaboration with the Lawrence Township Emergency Management Office and various other area emergency agencies. The scenario involved a chlorine gas spill in the Science and Technology Center.”
Dean of Students Anthony Campbell explained that the drill helped the university evaluate the internal communication system.
“We certainly looked at how we communicate and how we organize ourselves to get things done,” Campbell said. “We’re going to upgrade our radios so we can communicate clearer. We now have emergency telephones in each of the classrooms. We’re going to be putting in a PA system so that we can announce things to the campus.”
Another element that members of the administration explored after this summer’s mock drill is the use of cameras across campus.
“We’re looking at how we might use our security cameras on campus to observe things,” Campbell said. “We’re going to be adding new cameras to the entrances of the residence halls.”
University administrators feel that the drill provided them with information about what works well under emergency situations as well as ideas for new security tools and better campus-wide communication.
“We were successful in utilizing RiderAlert, global e-mail and voicemail, the Web site and our building marshals in quickly communicating across campus from the very start of the simulated emergency through its conclusion,” said Stasolla and Weaver. “We successfully evacuated the Science and Technology Center and Sweigart Hall, instructed others to shelter-in-place where appropriate and kept the rest of the campus community informed in order to ensure their safety.”
Students on campus during the emergency drill said they were not really affected by the situation.
“I remember sleeping right through it,” senior Dhwani Shelat said. “There were instructions in the classrooms, and they said that there might be parking issues, but I wasn’t affected by it.”

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