Photos by Christopher Ginn September 23, 2022
Emergency personnel provide resident assistants, other UD housing staff tips and protocols to deal with potential danger
The University of Delaware conducted its 14th annual Safety Training Night to help 200 Residence Life and Housing staff — especially resident assistants who live with students — prepare to respond in case of an emergency.
The training session on Aug. 23 brought together and was led by UD’s Police Department, UD’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety and personnel from the Aetna Hose, Hook and Ladder Company.
“For most students entering campus this fall, this will be their first time away from home and on their own,” said Kyle Kokoszka, an EHS fire safety and prevention specialist. “Students living in our residence halls depend heavily on the support of their RAs [resident assistants]. It’s essential that we prepare our RAs for any emergency that they may encounter.”
The training night was broken into four modules, including a fire response scenario with a simulated fire in Gilbert Hall and simulated smoke on the roof.
“A fire or other evacuation emergency at a residence hall involves hundreds of student residents," UD Fire Marshal Kevin McSweeney said. “Students practiced real-time evacuation, gathered at a designated meeting place and witnessed Aetna FD respond with fire engine and ladder truck crews. Having staff trained to help organize an orderly evacuation to a location 200-feet away is imperative; keeping residents away from the building is the goal.”
Additional modules included fire extinguisher training — which taught RAs to use the P.A.S.S. method (pull, aim, squeeze and sweep) with water extinguishers to douse propane-fueled fires — and cooking safety, where RAs were shown how to put out a stovetop fire with a pot or pan lid.
“Our training modules are intended to be hands-on, team-building opportunities,” McSweeney said. “We try to have RAs mingle with UDPD, EHS and Aetna to meet and become familiar with responders in a non-emergency session.”
Bill Wentz, a UDPD sergeant, led the final module on campus safety topics, including a bomb dog demonstration. He also fielded questions from the Residence Life and Housing staff.
“Many students questioned how our police department is handling the increasing calls of mental health crisis incidents among the student population,” Wentz said. “The RAs were surprised to hear that the police department trains for these types of service calls and has 10 trained experts in crisis negotiation officers among our squads and special units.”
Wentz said having emergency personnel interact with RAs fosters meaningful connections.
“UDPD is very passionate about building relationships with our Residence Life staff,” he said. “It’s imperative that our RAs feel comfortable speaking to our officers during incidents throughout the year. They are vital in helping us with our mission and are our extra eyes and ears among the student population.”
In addition to increased fire safety awareness and emergency evacuation information, Safety Training Night partners urged students to download the Live Safe app and call UDPD for a safety escort if needed.
“Campus safety is of the utmost importance to everyone here at the University,” Kokoszka said. “We certainly want our students, staff, faculty and visitors to be the gateway for others out in the community to continue to spread safety messages and be on the forefront of helping others stay safe.”