Fire! Earthquake! Zombies! Are you ready for an emergency?

- Joanne McGachie

May 4–10 is Emergency Preparedness Week, a great time to check your emergency kit and review what to do in the event of a crisis on campus, or at home.

Emergency Preparedness Week is a national event that takes place every year during the first full week of May. EP Week encourages Canadians to become better prepared for a range of emergencies, by taking three simple steps:

  • Know the risks
  • Make a plan
  • Get an emergency kit

At UVic, it may feel more like Emergency Preparedness month, with information sessions and exercises taking place on campus throughout May. The goal is to get all of us thinking about what we can do to be better informed and prepared for any type of emergency, whether it’s a building fire, a campus-wide threat, or a major earthquake.

Daphne Donaldson, UVic’s manager of emergency planning with Campus Security Services, wants everyone to be ready. “Every member of the campus community needs to be personally prepared,” she says. “When we each know what to do in different crisis situations, we will be much more resilient when the unthinkable happens.”

Donaldson is arranging free screenings of the PBS video Surviving Disaster. The documentary looks at how people react in the first crucial moments of a crisis, showing who survives and why. On May 9 from 1–2 p.m. (David Turpin Building A104) or May 20 from 12–1 p.m. (Turpin A102) bring your lunch and, just maybe, get some tips that could save your life. No registration required.

And don’t be alarmed if you see some odd things happening on campus throughout the month. On May 6, 12, 16 and 26 the Saanich and Oak Bay fire departments will be practicing extracting mock victims from confined spaces—including manholes near the Cunningham and Medical Sciences buildings.

UVic online may also look different on May 8, when tests will be conducted on our emergency communications systems, including the UVic website and UVic Emergency Alerts system.

As well, on May 22, UVic emergency responders from Campus Security and Facilities Management will be practicing campus evacuation procedures with the help of a small number of cooperating staff and faculty. Expect to see some emergency vests and people streaming towards the Campus Assembly Area in the playing fields—but don’t be alarmed.

Donaldson also encourages departments to contact the Personal Safety Coordinators to arrange a session on responding to active threats of violence. “It’s unlikely to happen, but it’s good to know what to do if it does. Knowing how to respond is key.”

Gayle Gorrill, vice president of finance and operations, notes that having quick access to information will also be key in any emergency. “I really want all members of the campus community to be aware of UVic Emergency Alerts,” she says. “It allows us to quickly contact students and employees to provide important, timely info during a crisis. It’s an invaluable tool for us.” 

The alerts system sends out updates through email, telephone, mobile phone text messaging, Twitter and networked digital signs. If you haven’t already signed up, please take a couple of minutes and go to to enrol your cell phone for text messaging—and follow @uvicemerg on Twitter.

Further information is available at, including the new campus evacuation map and emergency procedures poster. And be sure to visit the Campus Bookstore to check out their selection of emergency kits. Just in case!


In this story

Keywords: emergency, earthquake, security

People: Daphne Donaldson, Gayle Gorrill

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