Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Why That Annoying Alarm Might Save Your Life and Jim Marino

Hey everyone,

Here are the posts for this week - an interview with a new Public Safety official and a piece on DePaul's messaging system.

P.S. - Happy Obama Day!

He Sees the Big Picture: DePaul's New Assistant Director of Emergency Managment
You notice four things about Jim Marino the first time you meet him:
1. He's from Chicago. His accent is unmistakable.
2. He's a former DePaul student. Within two minutes of meeting him, I learned Marino went to DePaul, and was on the basketball team in the seventies (#34.) His team photo is the only one without Ray Meyer in it - "The Coach" said the team was practicing lousy that day, and refused to be in the picture.
3. He's a proud dad. He wore a Navy sweatshirt on the day of our interview. When I asked him if he was a former serviceman, he said no, that his daughter was a Navy pilot, and proceeded to point out the pictures of her in his office and tell stories.
4. He knows what he's doing. A retired police officer with years in the Counterterrorism unit, Marino is definitely the guy to go to if DePaul was ever faced with a major emergency.
"This job was created, I think, due to what happened at Virginia Tech and Northern Illnois," said Marino, who bears the title of Assistant Director of Emergency Management, and has been working at DePaul for eight months. "My job is to create emergency plans and make assessments of buildings - how easy would it be for all of DePaul to get out of this building? How easy would it be for a bad guy to get in?" Marino also helps create plans for each individual office at DePaul, so they know what to do in case of an emergency. He hopes to create a Student Emergency Response Team in the next year - a group of students who would be trained in how to help in case of an emergency - make phone calls, block off streets, help faculty and staff with lockdown procedures, and help promote safety on campus through posters and conversations.
"My job, it's really to be the bad guy," says Marino. He says he inconveniences people, with his plans and what if scenarios. But really, "I see the big picture. You have to be prepared for anything to happen."
Posted by Laura Bollin at 10:00 AM 0 comments

Why That Annoying, Blaring Message Board Just Might Save Your Life
So I'm sure you've been sitting in class and you've heard it - that high pitched, louder-than-the-voice-of-God automated speech from Public Safety that goes, "This is a test. If this was an actual emergency..." and then it goes off, mercifully. You return to your class, your daydreaming, your Web surfing, glad to not have to be bothered by it again, but, Heaven forbid, two minutes later, there it is again! High-pitched noise, green flashing lights, and that creepy humanoid voice: "This is only a test..."Then on Tuesday night, I was alone in a Mac lab in the Loop, and a different message started blaring - about how it was "now safe to return to the building." Did I miss a bomb threat? A mass evacuation? I had no idea.Frustrated, I decided to go to Public Safety and find out what all the fuss was about.What is it? It's the new DePaul safety message board system. It's purpose is to evacuate DePaul quickly and safely if a major event ever happens, like a bomb threat, an active shooter on campus, or a fire. In the case of a fire, the system message would actually be louder than the fire alarm - going right along with my "voice of God" analogy. It can also be used in case of severe weather, to alert the university community. It was implemented in the spring quarter of last year, and the first test was this fall. It will be tested one week every quarter - four days in the Loop and two days in Lincoln Park, with afternoon and evenings tests so that the maximum of the university is reached. There are also speakers in the dorm hallways, in every building DePaul owns and operates, in the quad and the parking lots, and in all atletic facilities, including Wish Field. The system is expandable, too, so if DePaul buys more property, the system can go in place there as well."You can't assume it's going to work - you have to test it," says Bob Wachowski. "If you don't test it, and then something happens, people will get angry, asking us 'Why didn't you test?' " Wachowski says that the main complaint about issues is that people were not notified, like in the Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University shootings. Our message system, Wachowski says, is the best way to make sure everyone is notified.
Posted by Laura Bollin at 9:17 AM 0 comments

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