Security conducts training scenarios for emergencies

Through hands-on training and real life simulations, Williams College Security is actively working to train and prepare its officers to ensure the health and safety of the College community.

“Student safety is paramount,” said Chuck Roberts, Security Patrol Supervisor, who is coordinating enhanced medical training for the department. Last spring, the officers completed First Responder training, which is an in-depth, professionally instructed medical safety course.

“It’s more than just basic first-aid,” said Roberts. “[The officers] are CPR qualified and every cruiser now carries yellow First Responder kits.”

Containing everything from a biohazard bag to multi-trauma dressings, the bags are fully equipped to assist officers on calls requiring medical emergencies. Additionally, smaller med kits are used when officers are on bike or foot patrol.

Though the First Responder course ended last spring, the department has begun monthly refresher courses to ensure its officers maintain their expertise.

“We talked to the officers and decided that we really need to do some refresher training because if we don’t use it, we would forget it,” said Roberts. “We do go on a lot of medical calls with students and it behooves us to stay refreshed in all of the different areas.”

In a sample two-month period, information given to The Record indicates that the department responded to 18 medical calls, ranging from assisting an elderly man who fell and hit his head on a sidewalk to discovering and reviving an unconscious student.

“I went back through the last academic year and totaled up all of the medical calls the officers responded,” said Roberts. “I focused this initial training for the officers based on the likelihood of the same type of events happening.”

Beginning last October, Roberts began coordinating a two-part training program.

“[Each month] one officer per shift will train the other people on their shift on these different tasks,” said Roberts. “It’s all hands-on focused – how to put the sling on, how to splint, how to respond to scenes, what are you’re looking for.”

In addition, every month, Roberts teaches a class to every officer in the department on a different topic. “I keep it small for the officers,” said Roberts, who added that his classes last between 15 and 30 minutes on average.

Also, the department has been compiling the training outlines that the officers and Roberts have used for these refresher courses as resources for future use and planning.

“They [the officers] have been doing a fantastic job,” said Roberts, who noted that some of this training occurs in the officers’ personal time – above and beyond their full time workloads and overtime assignments. “They have really embraced it and have put a lot of work into this.”

One challenge in developing a training program is that Security responds to different types of calls during different times of the day.

“Each shift has its own personality,” said Roberts. “In the day shift, there are a lot more visitors on campus. So, they have more interaction with the public. We ave had situations when elderly people have hit their head in Sawyer or have slipped in a parking lot.”

In the evening, the officers are often alone when responding to calls, which changes how they respond to medical situations. To help test and practice the training learned, Roberts has also developed various emergency scenarios.

“The officers were told that based on all of the training they have received so far, they were going to have some unannounced training scenarios,” said Roberts. “They knew it was coming, but they didn’t know what the topic would be, they didn’t know when and they didn’t know where [it would occur].”

“There’s definitely a need for it [the training],” said security officer Alison Warner Kachel. “It really prepares you.”

Roberts developed three separate scenarios, which were conducted twice in each of the department’s three shifts. To help make the scenarios as realistic as possible, Roberts enlisted the help of Junior Advisors and first-year students to serve as victims and witnesses. Last week, the simulated challenge the officers faced was a large 6’5″ first-year who fell down a stairwell, and sustained head and neck injuries.

“We want to make sure we can get [students] out of a building safely,” said Roberts.

The Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) of Village Ambulance also worked with Security during the evacuation.

“I contacted them and they said that they would love to do the drill with us,” said Roberts. “It gives them a chance to get into the building – to work in the close quarters.”

“The training is really good,” said Security Officer Darin Lillie. “You can sit, read a book and take tests. But, the [practical scenario] training is good because it helps us stay prepared.”

“[The additional medical training] makes for a much safer environment,” said Officer Robin Hart.

Though the drill was described as very tough and intense, the participants, officers and Roberts agree that it went very well.

While the January training is now complete, new medical topics and safety issues will be taught and practiced each month to help ensure that the officers are fully prepared for a wide variety of emergencies when answering a call.

Another area that the Security department is working on is increasing interactions between Security officers and the student body. Roberts emphasized that the health and safety of the student body is their top priority.

“When we roll on a medical call, our only focus is the safety of that student,” said Roberts.

In addition, the department hopes that students will assist officers on medical calls when needed.Two students who have already greatly helped Security are Eli Groban ’02 and Steve Eyre ’03, who are certified EMTs.

“They have helped us out so much in the past whenever there is a delay in [Village Ambulance’s] arrival,” said Hart.

“When we ask for information [on medical calls], it is so that we make the right decisions or we can relay that information to the EMTs or the paramedics,” said Roberts. “[Help] is critical because you don’t want to lose any time. We need information so that they can receive the proper treatment and care.”