Safety phones now in most buildings on both York campuses

Until recently, if help was needed or someone was seriously ill inside one of York’s many buildings, there wasn’t an easy or quick way to inform the right people. But that has all changed with the installation of 116 safety phones on the Keele and Glendon campuses.

“We wanted to establish a baseline level of service to every building on both campuses,” says Paul Mayol, project manager in the Office of the Vice-President Finance & Administration.

Although called a phone, they look more like an intercom system – sturdy, industrial silver squares the size of dictionaries with one large red button and a smaller black button. The red "push for help" button is directly connected to the Security Services Control Centre 24 hours of every day, and is for emergencies whether medical, a crime in progress or otherwise.

The location of each unit is clearly mapped at Security Services so they know exactly where the activated unit is located. Even if after touching the red button, the person is unable to speak, Security Services will send someone out to that spot.

The black button is to request a goSAFE walking escort through York’s goSAFE program.

The safety phones are clearly labelled and are typically on every floor of most York buildings, usually in an obvious spot, such as the building’s lobby, near an elevator or in a main corridor. “They are located where there is high pedestrian traffic flow and would be clearly visible,” says Mayol, who hopes to install safety phones in some of the more secluded areas in the future.

“I hope they never get used for emergencies, but it’s good that the infrastructure is there,” says Mayol. It’s all part of York’s integrated Emergency Preparedness Program.

In addition, some 60 safety phones, which look like regular phones, were installed in classrooms and lecture halls with a seating capacity greater than 75. These phones also have two direct lines, one is to Security Services and the other is to the Instructional Technology Centre for when professors are having difficulties with audio-visual equipment.

The project, which was some 18 months in the making, is now up and running. The next step will be to improve the infrastructure for the exterior blue light emergency phones around campus, says Mayol.

“Our efforts speak to York’s commitment to campus safety, emergency preparedness and response.”