Campus encouraged to prepare for emergencies

Krista Daly

Kit Espinosa, the emergency management and preparedness coordinator for CSUN, speaks before the senate about the plans in place in the event of a natural disaster or other campus emergency during Tuesday's meeting. Espinosa advises students not to run outside in case of an earthquake but to duck, cover, and hold. Photo Credit: Christianna Triolo / Staff Photographer

Students and faculty should be prepared for every situation that may arise on campus, said CSUN’s emergency preparedness coordinator at the A.S. meeting.

Kit Espinosa, emergency management and preparedness coordinator, said CSUN takes this topic seriously.

“You can never be prepared enough,” Espinosa said. “A lot of us just don’t think about it.”

By regulation of the state and federal law, CSUN has an all hazards plan including fire, earthquakes, explosions, hazardous materials, bomb threats, power outages and active shooters, Espinosa said.

“Every entity across the nation has to plan the same way,” Espinosa said. “We practice our response plans, and we teach them. We don’t just focus on one thing.”

Espinosa said quantifying how prepared students are for an earthquake or or fire is difficult.

“We have planned well for it and we plan to continue to make it better,” she said. “We constantly drill and we keep training.”

There are fires every year, without fail, Espinosa said. The training strongly plays into how prepared we are when the situation arises.

“I think any reminders we have of being on the lookout, in general, for being safer is good,” said David Crandall, A.S. general manager.

One of the plans already in place is the Floor and Building Marshall Program, which is a volunteer program mostly filled with faculty and staff because they are the ones who are usually in the buildings, Espinosa said.

Volunteers from each building are trained to help people evacuate in the case of a fire, or to wait and evacuate later in an earthquake, Espinosa said.
These people can be identified with red, green or yellow identifications depending on the situation, Espinosa said. If they have time to put on vests and hard hats, they’ll have those on as well, she added.

“Mostly, you’ll see people who know what they’re doing,” Espinosa said.

Resident advisors and community directors also go through training. Espinosa said. Occasionally, they’ll ask for a training session to help their residents be better prepared.

Espinosa said she is responsible for coordinating emergency preparedness and writing emergency plans.

She is also responsible for training the campus community and emergency operations staff, and working with the police to make sure they are updated on what goes on.

“If a group of students wanted to have the training, I set it up,” Espinosa said.

Every month, there is a mandatory training program for new employees through Professional Development, Espinosa said.

“After the Northridge earthquake of ’94, people brought [the mandatory training] back,” Espinosa said.

The employees of A.S. Recreational Sports Center (ASREC) began doing staged drills last semester, said Michelle Messiha, assistant director of ASREC.

Messiha said they participate in earthquake drills on campus and events like the Great Southern California Shake Out last year, but mostly focus their drills on some type of injury.

“We run surprise drills where someone will be a victim or have some kind of injury and the staff will have to respond,” Messiha said. “We make suggestions and recommendations on how they can improve.”

Each semester, they do one or two staged drills through different programs and they also do drills for lifeguards every month, Messiha said.

“There’s this quality called vigilance, which means keeping duty,” Crandall said. “The more watchful, the more vigilant we are. We will notice things.”

Crandall also said we should pay more attention to nature and animals.

“Noticing things in the environment is always a wise thing to do,” Crandall said.

Animals are more sensitive to earthquakes, so they will know if an earthquake just happened or if one is about to hit, Crandall said.