Making Emergency Planning a Priority


The University of Cincinnati Campus Recreation Center has been recognized for its outstanding architecture, programming, services and much more. It is known as one of the top recreation facilities in the nation. In fact, the CRC was named the No.1 Most Amazing Student Recreation Center by Best College Reviews in 2013.

While the facilities, programs and services are all top-notch, another area the CRC excels in is risk management. Kim Schmidt, the director of recreation at the University of Cincinnati, has made safety a top priority. “The safety and well-being of everyone who walks through our doors is extremely important to our team,” said Schmidt. “In addition to offering quality and diverse programs and services, we are committed to ensuring our response in an emergency situation is quick and of the highest quality.”

Schmidt explained that the emergency action plan developed by the CRC staff at the opening of the Campus Recreation Center has become the template for the University of Cincinnati’s Emergency Services Department, which serves the entire campus community. “Since the day we first opened our doors, we have had a strong protocol in place, and with each passing year our processes have only become better,” she explained.

A key component to the emergency action plan are the “Anytime, Anywhere” drills that were developed by Robert Weeks, the assistant director of aquatics. “Our introductory staff training is invaluable, but our emergency drill system has become a core element of keeping staff focused and confident in their skills,” said Weeks. “Real emergencies can happen at any moment, and our goal has been to put our students in a position to handle those emergencies without any professional staff member’s guidance.”

With more than 300 student staff and 15 professional staff that work at the CRC annually, approximately 120 student leaders, aquatics staff and professional staff are certified Professional Rescuers in CPR/AED/First Aid. “In 2013, we made a change to our protocol in that all employee who are certified in CPR/AED use will respond to a ‘Code Blue’ or life threatening emergency,” explained Schmidt. “It has become such a part of our culture that students who are not currently on duty, but in the facility, will respond to an incident if they hear a Code Blue called over the walkie-talkie.”

This preparedness helped to save a student’s life this past year. Even though she had no prior heart condition, a UC freshman went into sudden cardiac arrest while finishing a workout on the treadmill. “Twenty students and two professionals responded providing 13 minutes of care (CPR/AED) until emergency personnel arrived. After spending two weeks in the hospital, she returned to school and finished her semester on the Dean’s List. The student and the group of first responders were recently recognized by the American Heart Association as ‘Heart Heroes’ with their photo appearing on 21 digital billboards throughout the city.”

Since emergency situations might not happen frequently (hopefully), it can be easy to let your risk management plan fall to wayside. But as Schmidt explained, it is crucial to keep risk management top of mind, whether its “Anytime, Anywhere” drills or some other method, that way your student staff are prepared when a situation does occur.

Emily Harbourne was a previous editor for Campus Rec Magazine.

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