Safety on campus is a priority


Experience photo Illustration • Krys Shahin

Los Medanos College students return to College Complex Level Three after being evacuated due to a fire alarm Sept. 26. Maps atop the photo are the old evacuation routes for every building on campus. They are being updated.

Jordyn Toscano, @jordyntoscano

The Safety and Security Committee and Police Services at Los Medanos College are working to implement new and accurate evacuation route maps in every classroom and office space on campus.

As a result of construction to build a new Student Union building, which is slated to open in spring 2020, old evacuation routes and safety protocols need to be updated to include the new routes.

“The new maps are currently in progress with our marketing department,” said Lt. Chad Wehrmeister. “It’s our priority to get the college community familiarized with those layouts and evacuation plans for the new building.”

The Safety and Security Committee (SSC) has been working closely with Police Services to incorporate, not only new evacuation maps, but emergency preparedness flip books in every campus or office space on the Pittsburg campus.

“With regards to the flip books, they were designed for DVC and upon initial review the detailed content needs to reviewed and edited for LMC. This work is still underway,” said Safety and Security Committee Chair Carlos Montoya.

The flip books will include general, all-encompassing safety information that demonstrates the proper reaction protocol that students and staff will be expected to follow if they encounter an emergency on campus.

“It’s breaking emergency down to its simplest form. The maps and flip books are a real handy resource to have that we hope people will take the time to look at,” said Wehrmeister.

In addition to the new maps and flip books, which are still being edited and improved by the committee, Police Services recently conducted multiple emergency preparedness trainings.

Wehrmeister and the Police Department conducted a safety training Nov. 8 with the employees who work in the Office of Instruction.

The office provides academic management and support for all instructional programs, supervising instructional faculty and classified staff who work with students daily. Prior to last Friday, Office of Instruction personnel had not undergone emergency preparedness training for a significant period of time.

As part of the training, Wehrmeister visited each individual office to talk about what you could do in an emergency situation. “What I liked was when he came into our offices, because the physical layout of every room is completely different,” said Eileen Valenzuela, Office of Instruction supervisor.

Not only did Police Services conduct training with the Office of Instruction, but with many other groups on campus as well.

“This past Friday we had an emergency preparedness training with Student Life, leadership students, student employees… and those students become ambassadors for safety on campus,” said Wehrmeister.

The Safety and Security Committee has also assigned each of its members an area or building of responsibility they are expected to cover in the event of an evacuation or shelter in place.

“The document is called the Safety Support Team and is designed to ensure that there are roles during an emergency/evacuation,” said Montoya.

Not only are committee members assigned areas of responsibility during potential emergency situations, but police aides and officers are trained to go to the source of the problem, whether it be a fire alarm or otherwise, in an emergency situation as well.

The Contra Costa Community College District Police Department trains their officers to go straight to the source, yet in situations such as school shootings, there is no predetermined response to the issue.

“How do we prepare for the unpreparable? We focus and train for the things that we can control,” said Wehrmeister.

It all boils down to two potential responses, according to the district police department: evacuation from the premises or lockdown/shelter in place.

The fear of potential school shootings at any college in our area has become a predominant concern of members of the LMC student body, as there has been a significant increase in active school shootings recently. This week, Thursday Nov. 14, a school shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California left two dead and several injured.

Mike Kuhlman, deputy superintendent of the William S. Hart Union High School District where the shooting took place, said that school officials were “in the process of formulating a plan to care for our school and our community,” yet they did not have a solid safety plan yet.

The Safety and Security Committee and Police Services at Los Medanos College are constantly working to improve safety measures on campus, and educate the college community about emergency preparedness, but they still have work to do in preparing for these types of mass shooter emergencies.

“The committee’s intention is to be more nimble and flexible in responding to safety issues. Members believe that by making it an ‘operational’ group, it can better advise the Business Office and Police Department and provide prompter responses to safety issues,” said LMC President Bob Kratochvil.