UPD steps up evacuation drills

University Police increased evacuation drills in dorms on the Foggy Bottom campus over the past month in order to better prepare students for potential emergencies.

Additional drills took place from Oct. 17 to Nov. 7 in a select group of GW residence halls, mostly freshman dorms and densely populated dorms. UPD Chief Dolores Stafford said that while students were well prepared for evacuations, it is important for them to understand that exits must be cleared and appropriate attire be worn when leaving the building.

Unlike most drills, the latest round took place on evenings and weekends, the times when the most number of students are in their dorms, Stafford said.

“By putting in drills on evenings and weekends we can reach a much higher number of students and instruct them in the procedures during an emergency,” Stafford said.

“Evacuating is much more of a challenge for new students at Foggy Bottom and in the densely populated halls,” she added.

The affected dorms included Ivory Tower, 2034 G Street, Strong Hall, City Hall, Lafayette Hall, Hall on Virginia Avenue, Mitchell Hall, Thurston Hall and Fulbright Hall.

Dorms on the Mount Vernon Campus were not included in the extra drills because evacuation is easier in those buildings, Stafford said. Evacuating Foggy Bottom dorms is more complicated because of the public streets surrounding most buildings.

John Petrie, GW assistant vice president for Public Safety and Emergency Management, said there is some risk in having too many drills because students may stop taking them seriously and not react efficiently in the event of an actual emergency.

“In our experience, it would seem that there is always the danger of students responding to an emergency as though it were just another drill, but that kind of destructive behavior is fortunately limited,” he said.

Alan Etter, spokesman for the D.C. fire department, said that while GW is increasing its emergency drills, the trend is not being reflected citywide. The fire department does not require the University to complete drills.

Last year, in response to a high number of false fire alarms on campus, Etter told The Hatchet that students can begin to become complacent and fail to take the alarms seriously.

“There is a danger of building in a sense of complacency when they hear these fire alarms going off all the time and there is nothing,” Etter told the Hatchet in November 2004.

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