The morning of Oct. 18 started with a sulfuric acid spill in the Science Building.
The spill was only theoretical, but it gave representatives from each institution on the Auraria campus the opportunity to look for holes in the campus emergency plan.
The mock spill was a table-top exercise hosted by Auraria police at St. Cajetans center. Approximately 30 participants from all three schools on campus, as well as UCD Anschutz, the Health Center at Auraria, the Auraria Police Department and the Denver Fire Department broke into groups to work on the problem of the hypothetic spill.
Each group discussed how the spill and injured students should be dealt with and what concerns they had about procedures. They shared the results with the entire assembly afterward.
Corp. Sam Maes of the Auraria police explained the importance of students and staff remembering that to notify the on-campus police force and recieve immediate assistance, they need to call 911 from an emergency phone or the Auraria police department number — (303) 556-5000 — from a cell phone.
“We can be there in only a minute or two,” Maes said. “We’ll call the fire department and work on controlling the scene.”
He said that the fire department could be on the scene in minutes, including HAMER 1, the Denver fire department’s hazardous materials truck.
Others said that following procedure meant calling Auraria Higher Education Center to lock down the building and turn off the ventilation system to keep poisonous fumes from escaping.
Martha Eaton, assistant director of the Health Center at Auraria said that it was important that students who leave the building after a spill come straight to the health center, even if they didn’t feel any ill effects.
“Two of us have been trained by the military with specialty triage training for large capacity incidents,” Eaton said. “It’s better if they just come to us rather than wait.”
Groups discussed concerns over how to know who is in charge during emergencies and how to know when to pass the job on to police or paramedics.
Det. Leonard Peete with the Auraria police played devil’s advocate to help groups realize what plan might work. He advised them to talk to each other.
“Communication problems are a huge downfall in emergency situations,” Peete said.
Amy Hopkins, CCD’s biology lab coordinator, was concerned with some points, including how to funnel students and faculty through one exit so that they could be checked by health officials as they left.
“Not all of us have access to emergency supplies on every floor,” Hopkins said. “If my key only opens the showers on the second floor and the injured student is on the third floor, then I have to take them all the way down to the next floor before I can help them.”
Hopkins also said that the showers did not have drains, and using them would send contaminated water back into the halls.
Peete said that he hopes the participants of the exercise will have a better understanding of how to handle a spill and of what emergency measures can be improved.