ASSOCIATE NEWS EDITOR
T[/d]he University of Windsor’s police and emergency response services are being recognized as campus safety leaders among collegiate institutions across Canada and North America.
Campus Community Police walked away with the Microsoft Technology Innovation Award from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police last week. The award recognizes police forces demonstrating creativity and innovation in using technology to advance policing. Also, out of 32 universities from the U.S. and Canada, the UWindsor’s student-led Emergency Response Team took third place at the Collegiate Medical Services Foundation Conference in Baltimore on Feb. 25 and 26.
The MTIA is designed to promote information technology advancement in policing throughout Canada.
The program, launched seven years ago by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police in co-operation with Microsoft Canada, applauded UWindsor’s campus-wide notification system designed to keep campus safe, while providing real-time information sharing with other public safety agencies.
UWindsor emergency management co-ordinator Chris Zelezney and his team worked with FutureShield Inc. and UWindsor’s IT Services, to combine mass notification, emergency operations, mapping and situational awareness software to provide a seamless emergency protocol for the campus in the university’s Emergency Operations Centre.
“We provide instant mass emergency notification to all registered users in the UWindsor community through text messaging, e-mail, cell and home phone messaging. The system has cameras that can monitor the progress of pre-determined evacuation routes and medical triage sites,” Zelezney said. “We also have the ability to provide a common operating picture for emergency responders that includes GIS (Geographic Information Data) mapping, plume modelling software and information sharing that can be accessed by authorized users from anywhere in the world.”
In her 32 years working for IT Services, systems analyst Marlene Kemski said, the technology involved in campus policing has grown exponentially.
“It’s wonderful that the hard work of so many people has been recognized. These tools are the future of policing,” said Kemski, whose department has been helping campus police develop their systems with the help of various software vendors for over six years.
“We had a vision that our campus implement a comprehensive safety and notification program, and it was through this vision that we developed a tool that has grown in scope to be a model for national and international public safety efforts,” Zelezney said. “This is the first system of its kind for an educational institution. We were honoured to receive the MTIA award and doubly honoured to work with first-line emergency agencies in providing service to our community.”
Zelezney and his partners tested the system as part of the live international public safety exercise in February 2011.Windsor Police Service, the Detroit Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, the Ontario Provincial Police and various Windsor-Essex County emergency operations centres took part in the successful trial run of what MTIA calls one of the most advanced virtual emergency control rooms in Canada.
The University of Windsor’s ERT is an integral part of our emergency response plan, according to Campus Community Police director Mike MacKinnon.
Though 13 members attended the CMFC conference, WERT team members Kyle Brown, Samantha Leahy, Andrew Peltier, Dara Tate and Adam Bulkiewicz competed in the skills competition to place third.
The conference, which was primarily an educational experience, tested teams on their ability to deal with trauma situations and to communicate under duress. Windsor placed in the top five for the trauma scenario and placed first in the medical and communication scenarios.
Considering many teams are state registered emergency medical technicians, who require a greater amount of training, WERT’s success speaks volumes about the volunteer staff here on the UWindsor campus, according to competition participant and WERT members manager, Andrew Peltier.
“We’re not meant to replace paramedics. Their average response time is eight minutes, we can be there in two,” said Peltier, who pointed out that every minute counts in some situations. “We will assess a situation and stabilize a patient until paramedics arrive. In some cases, we will divert paramedics from non-life-threatening situations to help free them up for true emergencies.”
With over 30 volunteers working various shifts, Monday to Saturday, WERT is trained to do everything from apply a bandage to operate an automatic electronic defibrillator, according to Peltier.
“We have a mix of volunteers, some are actually paramedics giving up their free time, but most are just regular students who have completed the required 88-hour Emergency First Response Training,” said WERT member and fourth-year biology student Kyle Brown. “It’s the same training you would need to go through to be a firefighter.”