STORY BY MOLLY ADAMSON
Walking through campus, students can easily spot the blue poles with the word “Emergency” on them. However, some students may not know what they are actually for.
When asked, “Do you want to talk about the blue lights?” many students responded with puzzled looks.
This system is supposed to help students in emergencies and has been around since 2009. Some still don’t know how it works.
Scott Law, the Director of Public Safety explained in detail what the blue lights do.
“The blue light phones are set up to serve as a stand-alone emergency communication system,” Law said. “The vast majority of them are simply one-way telephones, meaning that a person can’t call anyone but Public Safety. So you come up to the phone, push the button and it automatically connects you to a Public Safety dispatcher.”
The caller would then explain the situation, and since Public Safety knows where each phone is located, the dispatcher would send help to that situation.
“Even if someone was unable to speak, say they were choking, or they were having a diabetic incident and weren’t able to speak when they called, they could still punch the button,” Law said. “Three of the blue light phones also serve as two-way speakers. During campus emergencies we can talk over those phones and make announcements to the general public.”
However, Public Safety cannot be at the scene in a matter of seconds. It will take a few minutes for Public Safety to get across campus. When a person presses the button, a dispatcher should begin talking through the phone. So as long as someone doesn’t walk away, they can get help.
If an emergency were to occur, some might not even know to press the button on the blue light.
When asked, four Drake students said they didn’t know what the blue light phones are for.
Nicole Schmidt, an undeclared major, knows what the system is for, and sees the benefits of the system.
“In times of crisis, if you know where one is, you can run to it and push the button. So that’s helpful,” Schmidt said. “But they’re also beneficial because they don’t encourage crime. People know that they are life lines around Drake and they create a presence that says, ‘we don’t tolerate crime.’”
Law explained that the majority of the time people press the button is for assistance and not because a crime has occurred.
“We did have an incident here at Drake where a little kid was lost on campus. That little kid didn’t have a phone, they lived in the community, they pushed the button and they got Public Safety to come help,” Law said.
Law commented on the importance of being educated on the blue light system.
“I think the Blue Light phones do serve an important role as one of the many pieces we have to make the campus as safe as possible,” Law said.
Law also encouraged students to walk in groups and to utilize the Drake Guardian.
“I think all of those things working together help keep our students safe,” Law said. “If students have ideas or thoughts on things that would help improve the system, please let us know.”