WRITTEN BY: JORDAN LEMKE | CONTRIBUTOR
Blue light emergency call towers, a landmark of college campuses for over 20 years, have just arrived at Point Loma Nazarene University. According to Campus Safety Magazine, the goal of these emergency phones is to provide immediate assistance in the case of an emergency.
For some colleges, the towers have become obsolete, costly technology. The website Inside Higher Ed, wrote that colleges such as the Contra Costa Community College District removed their emergency call boxes on their campuses “primarily because of high maintenance costs.” Their 25 call towers cost the district about $50,000 in annual maintenance, and removing the towers was a cost-effective decision.
Inside Higher Ed also quoted Contra Costa Community College District’s Chief of college police services, Charles Gibson. He said that the blue light phones are often misused by people confused about their purpose– using the emergency call centers to call for directions or report a car problem. Chief Charles Gibson also said that he had never received a “verified, real emergency call” from one of the towers in the past five years.
Despite this, Point Loma Nazarene University recently installed seven of these blue light towers around the campus. The infamous cell coverage on Point Loma Nazarene University grounds is one reason for installing these call centers. The website, Emergency Management said, “There are some reasons a campus might want to keep blue-light phones, such as failed 911 service or geography that causes spotty wireless coverage.”
Kaz Trypuc, a Public Safety Supervisor at Point Loma Nazarene University, said, “Our campus has some pretty substantially sized areas across campus where cell phone coverage is inconsistent…part of [installing the call boxes] is to provide emergency call options in areas when people don’t have cell reception, or maybe their cell phones are dead, or maybe they don’t have their cell phones on them.”
Another reason for installing and maintaining the emergency stations is because parents and students like seeing them. Emergency Management said, “Some campuses believe the units’ visibility adds value to the perception of security, or that they play a role in application decisions.”
Kaz Trypuc said that one of the major reasons for the recent installation of the call towers is that they also include a public address speaker, located at the top of each tower. He said, “That’s one of the more crucial things about these new phones. They will allow us to…connect those public address speakers to our emergency notification system, so that when we send out a text alert to the campus community regarding an emergency, those loudspeakers will turn on and broadcast an audible message to the surrounding area.”
Looking into the future, Kaz Trypuc said, “There will be a lockdown drill this semester that the campus is going to participate in, and we are going to run a test of all of our emergency notifications systems including…that public address system.”
For some campuses, blue light emergency call towers will be removed, replaced by other security measures. Point Loma Nazarene University, however, hopes that the addition of the call stations will bolster campus safety, as well as provide a way to broadcast messages in the case of an emergency.
Photo courtesy of The Forum