AMHERST — New signs popped up outside of University of Massachusetts Amherst residence halls in an effort to better distinguish predefined “emergency assembly areas.”
The signage initiative was led over the summer by Residential Life Student Services, as well as the Department of Environmental Health and Safety. Jeffrey Hescock, the interim director of EHS, said staff are always looking for ways to improve on-campus safety.
“We’ve had these evacuation assembly points kind of designated on campus for pretty much forever,” said Hescock. “But the challenge has been if students don’t know exactly where they are.”
Fire drills took place last week in the residence halls, giving students and residential life staff the chance to practice evacuating and gathering the newly marked locations.
The signs are marked with two capital letters followed by a number, and have been placed in locations outside of residence halls where UMass Resident Assistants and Residence Directors should take their students in case of a drill or emergency. For example, “CH-1” for Commonwealth Honors College, Birch Hall.
The hope is that the new signs will eliminate potential confusion about which areas to evacuate to and streamline cooperation between residents and emergency response teams, Hescock said.
“I’m actually shocked that we didn’t have it already, so I definitely think this is a project that I’m really glad that we finished,” said Lacey Olson, marketing and communications coordinator for residential life.
The idea for the signs came from a faculty member who visited Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., saw their evacuation area signage and suggested to Hescock and EHS that UMass could use something similar.
Olson worked with UMass digital media designer Adrienne Cremmins to create the signs and facilitate decisions between residential life and EHS.
Cremmins also made similar indoor signs to go in residence hall lobbies and family living apartments in North Village and Lincoln Apartments.
Dawn Bond, director of Residential Life Student Services, said the signs are just another way to help students successfully evacuate if there was an emergency.
“With so much that’s happening in our world, it’s a little bit of a sense of security around safety procedures,” Bond said.
Information about the emergency evacuation areas can also be found on the “My UMass” app, under the “navigating campus” tab.
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