Despite the emergency blue light phones all over campus, several CSUN students still don’t know much about them.
“I don’t know what they are,” said sophomore Yesenia Arias. She said no one ever told her the purpose of the lights.
Arias said students may not know about the emergency blue light phones because they are not informed about them at orientation or anywhere,
“You push (a button on the phone) and it calls the campus police, right?” said junior history major Liliana Morales. “I assume that’s what it’s for.”
The emergency blue light phones are located throughout the campus for anyone in an emergency to call the campus police dispatch center for help.
There are 56 blue phones on campus that have the word “emergency” painted on the sides, said Christina Villalobos, CSUN Public Safety spokesperson.
Computers at the dispatch center indicate where the person is calling from, so the student does not have to waste time in describing where he or she is located.
As soon as a button is pressed and the police know where the person is, an officer is sent to the location. Even if there is no response from the person pushing the button, an officer is still sent to investigate, Villalobos said.
She explained that police officers are always dispatched to the locations, regardless of the reason the button was pushed.
The phones are there to provide direct assistance to students in case of an emergency, even if in some cases there is no real emergency.
“More often than not we get calls that are not emergencies,” Villalobos said. “We have had students call because they’re lost or because they have car trouble.”
The police urge students to use the phones in real emergencies because they may tie up the line for someone that has a more serious situation, Villalobos added.
Byron Chambers, senior sociology major, said he has pushed the emergency button before and said there was no response.
The phones are checked weekly to make sure they are operating well, Villalobos said.
The person who checks them makes a note of any problems with the phones and marks malfunctioning machines as being out of service. Technicians then fix the problem.
After not receiving a response, Chambers said he prefers to use his cell phone to call 911 instead of using the blue lights, which is something that people may be more inclined to do because it is the closest service to them at the time, Villalobos said.
By dialing 911 on a cell phone, the call is directed to highway patrol. Once they are aware of your situation and location, they then transfer you to the local police station. It is a longer process that is not recommended, Villalobos said.
“It’s going to take more time if you call from your cell phone,” she said. “(The emergency lights) are reliable and many are located throughout campus, including on each floor of the parking structure.”
There are also new phones for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.
The teletypewriter, or TTY, call boxes are similar to those located on the freeways, Villalobos said. The boxes contain a phone, a screen and a keyboard so people can quickly type in their emergency.
The boxes have been on campus since summer and were made possible by the Grace Petri Endowment Fund, which gave CSUN a $17,507 grant.
CSUN is among the first universities to provide such services for the deaf and hard-of-hearing and university officials are hoping to make more call boxes available throughout campus, Villalobos said.
Oscar Areliz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.