Sept. 6, 2022

Practice makes perfect: Campus-wide evacuation drills are back Sept. 12-21

Here’s everything you need to know about annual evacuation drills
Evacuation Drills

After a two-year hiatus, evacuation drills are back Sept. 12-21, 2022, helping prepare the University of Calgary community for emergency events.

According to Bob Maber, senior director of Emergency Management, UCalgary runs evacuation drills each year during the first month of fall classes to help prepare students and employees to evacuate buildings quickly and safely.

“There are a lot of unknowns during an emergency, but the best way to get out of your building shouldn’t be one of them,” says Maber. “Going through the motions — actually responding to the alarm, grabbing your keys and leaving the building — helps to lower stress and increase efficiency in the case of an actual incident. In a high-pressure situation, when time is limited, ingrained knowledge of the basics makes all the difference.”

Evacuation drills are scheduled for every UCalgary building from Sept. 12 to 21, during daytime hours. Participating in this emergency-preparedness training is required and helps everyone practice good evacuation habits. Check out the detailed drill schedule. Most evacuation drills should only take about 15 minutes.

Here’s what you should know before we sound the alarm in your building: 

Know your role

Everyone at the university plays an important role during evacuations. Before the drills begin, know how to evacuate safely and properly by being proactive and reviewing your site and building-specific emergency instructions; know where the primary and secondary emergency exits and stairs are located and be familiar with your designated assembly point.

Supervisors, managers, instructors, and staff members are asked to review Evacuation Instructions with their staff and assist students when evacuating.

It is also important to know when to safely re-enter a building after a drill or alarm. Campus security will report to the assembly point to announce an “all clear” message when it is safe to re-enter the building and will inform evacuees if the building will be closed for a lengthy time. Says Maber:

Evacuation drills are vital to maintaining and improving our internal processes. We practice so that we can improve — so we can be as effective as possible during actual incidents.

If you have a Buddy/are part of the Emergency Buddy Program, ensure that you and your Buddy have your response plan in place. 

Know the evacuation procedure

You should always respond to an alarm quickly and calmly, but there’s no rule preventing you from grabbing your personal effects if they’re close by. Take a moment to collect your coat, keys and identification (and UNICARD, especially if you need it to re-enter your workspace). Students evacuating classrooms should bring their laptops and book bags if it’s safe to do so.

“In the case of a real evacuation, you never know how long it will be before you can re-enter your building,” says Maber. “If it’s safe, you should leave with the items you need to get yourself home.” 

Next, leave via the nearest exit and take the stairs — not an elevator — to the ground floor. Close the doors along your exit route and get out of the building.

Check out the instructions for building evacuation and other emergency procedures for pandemic preparedness, severe weather, hazardous materials spill, fire or explosions, and active assailants on campus.  

Know your assembly points

Assembly points for each building were carefully chosen to be near a washroom, large enough to fit everyone comfortably and be protected from the elements.

During emergencies, assembly points are an important part of the communication process.

“When everyone is in one place, emergency responders can easily provide real-time information,” says Maber. “It’s also the most direct way for evacuees to communicate to emergency responders.”

Check the complete list of building assembly points and know where to go during your upcoming evacuation drill.