By Cazzy Lewchuk, Staff Writer
By mid-September, both the New Westminster and Coquitlam campuses of Douglas College will have partaken in an annual lockdown drill. This type of procedure is preparation for the potential event of a violent intruder on campus or other immediate threat to student and faculty safety.
Each campus will be alerted to the drill via the PA-system. Those on school grounds will be instructed to get inside the closest room, lock the doors, cover the windows, turn out any sources of light, remain quiet, and stay close to the ground. Ideally, the drill will be executed quickly and with as little movement as possible. The purpose of the drill is to simulate the events of a real lockdown as closely as possible. Instructions on the procedure will be given during the drill by faculty; these instructions can also be found inside any of the respective campus classrooms.
Unlike a fire or earthquake drill, the immediate goal in a lockdown is to secure the campus as well as everyone on it. This is because evacuating the building when there is a violent intruder at large would be considerably less safe and impede the police response.
Police will be on both campuses during the drills to ensure students and faculty have followed proper procedures. In the event of an actual lockdown, police would be on the scene as quickly as possible to subdue the danger and communicate with the college.
Nancy Constable, director of safety, security, and risk management at Douglas College, is in charge of orchestrating the upcoming drill by initiating and ending its procedure. “In any campus emergency my role is to ensure appropriate notification to the college community,” said Constable. She further explained that protecting lives is the top priority of the school, as well as commencing regular campus activities in a calm fashion following the respective drill or incident.
In the event of an actual lockdown, Constable would initiate the procedure as usual, lockdown herself and others around her, and then communicate effectively with police on what to do next. After the procedure, an incident management team and crisis response team would be assembled and briefed. Such teams would also be directed by Constable.
Lockdown drills were last held at the New Westminster campus in May 2013 and at the Coquitlam in September 2013. However, the current procedure is to hold one on each campus early during the fall semesters. Drill dates are planned well in advance, and for safety reasons, kept confidential; students will be informed on the actual drill days prior to the drill commencing.