Campus 911

More than 60 emergency telephone poles with blue lights are scattered throughout Fresno State’s campus. They add to a sense of safety among students by enabling them to call a campus police officer at any time with the push of a big red button.

“These phones go directly into our dispatch center on our 911 line,” said Amy Armstrong, the public information officer for the University Police Department.

These phones are tested on a monthly basis to ensure they are working properly.

Standard protocol for using one of these emergency phones is to push the call button and wait for a dispatcher to answer. In most cases, someone will answer within the first few rings. A quick greeting of “911, please state your emergency” is transmitted through an intercom and the person in crisis can ask for assistance of any kind. If needed, a campus police car will arrive on scene within five minutes.

The emergency staff is a diverse group of security officers, police officers and staff who are certified in first aid and CPR.

When 22-year-old nursing student Danielle Chaffee found herself in need of medical assistance after slicing her upper leg on a piece of broken glass during a soccer game, using the emergency phones didn’t cross her mind. She was about to jump in her car and drive to an emergency room when a friend reminded her of the phone pole standing less than five feet from her.

“I didn’t even think about using it. I wasn’t sure if they really worked so I didn’t want to waste my time,” Chaffee said. “I was bleeding like crazy and just needed to get to a doctor, so I used the emergency phone to have someone come pick me up. They got me to the Health Center and I got my leg taken care of.”

Chaffee said campus police rushed to her aid within a few minutes and she was grateful for the fact that they could communicate so easily by the emergency phones.

However, there doesn’t have to be an emergency for someone to use the phones. Armstrong said people often call when their car battery dies, since the emergency staff offers battery jumps.

If someone can’t find their way around campus easily, get lost or aren’t able to walk, they are also able to use the phones to call for a ride at any time.

At night, safety rides are the most popular request, Armstrong said. Students can also use the phones if they feel suspicious or are being bothered by anyone.

Taylor Scoma was in a situation like this last fall. Scoma said that as she was walking to her Tuesday night class, a strange woman started to hassle her and made her feel threatened and uncomfortable. Scoma used the emergency phone nearest to her to ask for someone to come investigate the situation.

“The operator was really nice and understanding and she assured me that she would send someone out,” Scoma said. “That weird lady wouldn’t stop asking me where her son was, and right in the middle of her rant a police car showed up and called her over. It only took a couple minutes for them to come, which was pretty impressive.”

Though more than half of the emergency calls are legitimate, many of them are prank calls.

“Some people just get curious,” Armstrong said.

Even so, the emergency staff doesn’t take these calls lightly. If no one answers the intercom, every precaution is taken to make sure no one is in danger. Cameras are used to scan around where the call was made, and someone is sent out to secure the area just in case.

Scoma is happy that the help is available.

“The phones make our campus a safer place,” Scoma said. “I think people should be thankful we can access them so easily.”

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