Preparation proves crucial during fires

Be prepared: Chris Enos, chief of police, recommends that each student have a personal emergency evacuation plan. Enos ensured that emergency preparation saves lives.

Wesley Tabor

Timing is crucial during a fire. Being prepared ahead of time can be the difference between life and death.

Death can occur approximately three minutes after the initial start of a fire, according to the Washburn University general fire and life safety guidelines.

Chief of Police, Chris Enos, encourages students to prepare in three areas. They include: Tornadoes, Fires and “Shelter in place” protocol.

“If individuals can get these three things covered then you have the safety planning procedure that we encourage students to look at,” said Enos.

Heather Dunlap, safety director and emergency manager, conducted tornado, fire and “shelter in place” drills with residence halls last week.

“Once it happens… it’s a little too late to ask, ‘where is that shelter location?’” said Enos. “You need to have a plan B.”

That is where Dunlap comes in – providing training and planning for the worst. Whenever catastrophe may strike.

“I take care of our emergency operations procedures,” said Dunlap. “We try to mitigate against those [emergency situations] and make it as easy as possible.”

Dunlap mentioned she’s been working with students on fire extinguisher training.

“It makes it a whole lot easier if you know how to use the equipment on-hand if and when you’re in that situation.”

Enos eluded to studies that show how individuals react when having to evacuate quickly.

“People typically try to evacuate via an exit they came in,” said Enos. “That’s just our psychological reaction. We always need to be thinking ‘what’s the alternative?’”

Options can be limited, especially for those facing mobility issues.

“I have told students that [struggle with] mobility issues that the elevator is probably very safe to go ahead and take down to exit the building,” said Dunlap.

Enos had some suggestions if the elevator isn’t an option.

“Call 911 and communicate with first responders on your location,” said Enos. “They’re trained to evacuate people from the buildings – especially people with mobility issues.”

Enos continued.

“If it’s an emergency situation then we depend on the fire department to come and assist with that evacuation.”

Last week faculty members from Mabee Library were asked to help a wheelchair-mobile student exit an elevator in Henderson Learning Resources Center after it shutdown while she was in it. Fortunately, the elevator was up and running before the student needed assistance.

“Our guidance to students is that they shouldn’t be physically picking someone up,” said Enos. “That should be the last resort.”

To be notified of ongoing threats, emergencies or elevator shutdowns on Washburn’s campus, students should sign up for iAlert.

“You’re going to get an email by virtue of having a campus account,” said Enos. “That may not be timely, so students need to sign up online if they want the emergency messaging sent to their cell phone.”

Edited by Adam White, Abbie Barth