Emergency & Crisis Response
Division of Student Affairs, January 2012
This site gives the emergency and crisis protocols for the Division of Student Affairs in response to major incidents involving current students. The following emergency guidelines are designed to help ensure that university staff members respond properly to crises. The need for detailed written protocols reflects the nature of these circumstances: they are often complex, require sensitive and difficult interactions with many people, and involve the coordination among many offices.
The university operates with the premise that students in an emergency are often best served by a coordinated team approach that may involve staff from multiple offices within the Division of Student Affairs (including the Dean of Students Office, Residential Life, Counseling, Health and Wellness Services), and Security Services. Staff members from other campus offices, such as Academic Advising, Registrar's Office, Athletics, and/or additional offices, may also function as valuable members of such a team. If the student involved is an international student, the International Student Coordinator will also be part of the team. Coordination with the student's parent(s) or guardian(s) is another option that may prove beneficial.
The University utilizes, with due respect to student privacy, the guidelines of this document within the limits imposed by legally protected confidentiality of communication between students and their health care providers or pastoral counselors:
Roles for members of the Division of Student Affairs are outlined here. The roles are defined by tasks expected during the crisis and expectations for after the crisis. During weekday office hours, protocols of individual offices should be followed.
During the Crisis
- Student Staff/Greek Chapter Presidents: In a crisis situation the role of the student staff/leader is always to consult with their Student Affairs professional staff member for assistance. If the student staff/leader is the first person to come upon a life threatening crisis situation, they should immediately contact Security Services at x3311.
- Student Affairs Professional Staff: The Residence Life professional staff member on call often serves as the initial decision maker in the crisis situation. The Residence Life professional staff member should make decisions about whom else to consult, including Security Services, Dean of Students Office, Residence Life or Counseling, Health and Wellness Services staff members.
- DSA Deans or Designees On-Call: In consultation with the ranking Security Services staff member, these staff members are charged with making situational decisions about the disposition of crisis situations.
- Dean of Students: The Dean of Students is typically on call on weeknights and selected weekends. Even if not on call, the Dean of Students should be notified in the event of a crisis or emergency on campus, or in the event of a student death, on or off campus.
- Counseling, Health & Wellness Services Staff: CHWS psychology staff performs the role of assessment, treatment, and referral in a mental health crisis situation. CHWS staff should be consulted regarding the disposition of mental health cases.
- Security Services: In the event that Security Services personnel are the only individuals responding to the crisis, they are the final decision makers consistent with their protocols. In the event that Security Services is responding with members of the Student Affairs staff, Security Services and Student Affairs staff members will make collaborative decisions about how to proceed with the crisis. In a crisis situation that requires the presence of medical or psychological personnel, Security Services will provide assistance to outside authorized agencies as needed or directed.
- International Programs: Whenever an international student is involved in any emergency or crisis situation, the International Student Coordinator should be contacted immediately so a staff member can assist the student with SEVIS regulations, immigration status or other such issues.
After the Crisis
- Student Staff/Resident Director: Residence Life staff will continue providing information to floor, building, and house members about the status of the person(s) involved. This information will be communicated in a manner that respects privacy and confidentiality. Incidents in Greek houses will involve the chapter president and/or advisor(s).
- Residence Life Professional Staff: Staff may be called on to provide assistance in terms of changes in housing location (e.g., providing a temporary room location that accommodates a student on crutches). Residence Life staff will consult with members of the CHWS staff as needed to provide support for friends, floor mates, etc., who may be impacted by the crisis.
- Dean of Students or Associate Dean of Students: Personal contact with the student(s) most directly affected will be made by the Dean or Associate Dean. The Assistant Dean will serve as needed as the academic and administrative case manager. This includes notifying faculty about the absence of the students and making recommendations regarding ongoing academic status given the length of absence. The Dean or Associate Dean should serve as the initial contact with parents regarding the impact on academics and accommodations that the school is making to assist the student; The Assistant Dean will be available to provide ongoing communication with families following a crisis.
- Dean of Students: The Dean of Students is informed of a crisis situation by the DSA dean or designee on call. The Dean serves as the final decision maker regarding involuntary withdrawal of a student. The Dean also serves the role of informing other members of the campus community who might need to be involved, such as the President, Registrar, etc.
- Counseling, Health & Wellness Services Staff: CHWS staff members will serve as the liaison and/or case managers for the medical or psychological aspect of a crisis. CHWS staff will follow the status of the student through communications with physicians, psychiatrists or other providers. CHWS staff also provides follow-up treatment or referral as needed. CHWS staff may also provide “debriefing” assistance for students who have been emotionally impacted by the crisis. This is coordinated through Residence Life staff for residential students and for off-campus students.
- University Chaplain: The Chaplain will be informed of crises and will serve, in consultation with the Director of CHWS, as a pastoral and counseling resource to students, family members, faculty, and staff as needed.
- Director for Multicultural Student Services: The MCSS Director will be informed of the crisis situation if a student involved is a member of a multicultural group.
Types of Crisis
List of Types of Crisis
*In the event of an emergency, Security Services will contact the appropriate Student Affairs professional(s).
Medical Emergencies Involving Human Life
In the event of an emergency, our first order of concern is for the safety and the wellbeing of any students who may be injured, and secondly for any students affected by the crisis (i.e., witnesses, friends of victims). Getting injured students safely transported for expedited medical care must be the highest priority.
A determination must be made concerning whether the accident or illness is of an emergency nature and if the person needs transportation by ambulance or whether an alternative method may be used. If it is a life-threatening emergency, or if you are unsure, call Security Services (x3311). Security Services will immediately call for an ambulance.
Emergency Transportation of Injured or Ill Students
- Call Security Services (x3311) for an ambulance. Security will contact outside authorized agencies.
- Send someone to the front door of the building to direct those summoned for help to the scene of the emergency.
- Call the Residence Life professional staff member on call.
- You or the Residence Life professional staff member should notify the Dean of Students office (x3360 daytime), or DSA dean or designee on-call, of the emergency as soon as possible.
- Residence Life staff member responding to the situation should fill out a Communication Report.
Students are responsible for the costs incurred for using the ambulance or emergency room services.
Use of Staff Personal Vehicles:
Members of the Student Affairs staff, including student and professional staff, are not to transport students in need of urgent medical care in their own vehicles. Assumption of responsibility to take a student in a privately-owned vehicle to the hospital may not be covered under the university’s liability insurance policy.
If a problem situation occurs with an intoxicated student, refer to a professional staff member (i.e., Resident Director, Security Services) for assessment. Make sure that a seriously intoxicated student receives appropriate medical attention, but under no circumstances should a University of Puget Sound student staff member accept responsibility for the care of an intoxicated student.
Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning:
- Person is unconscious or semi-conscious and cannot be awakened.
- Cold, clammy, pale, or bluish skin.
- Check to see if breathing is slow (less than eight times per minute) or irregular, with ten seconds or more between breaths.
- Vomiting while “sleeping” or passed out, and not waking up after vomiting.
If a person has any of these symptoms, he or she may be suffering from acute alcohol intoxication.
- Get help. Call Security Services to have the Residence Life professional staff member on call notified to be in touch with you. If the person is not breathing, call Security directly at x3311.
- Do not leave the person alone. Turn the victim on his or her side to prevent choking in case of vomiting.
- Always be “better safe than sorry” if you are not sure what to do. Call the on-duty staff person.
Non-Emergency Medical Issues
Consulting Nurse Line:
Should a student experience a non-emergency medical condition and require consultation, refer the student to the CHWS consulting nurse (x1555) during daytime office hours.
During the evening, the student may contact the after-hours consulting nurse line at 403-7778.
Staff should help students find one of the various alternatives available for transportation.
- Yellow Cab: 472-3303 (24 Hour Service)
- Pierce Transit Bus Route Info: 581-8000
- Pierce Transit Shuttle Info: 581-8100 (For people with disabilities)
In most non-emergency medical cases, it is preferable to have students find family or a friend to transport them to the health care facility. When a student is referred by a CHWS or Security Services staff member, and when alternate, timely transportation is not available, the student may be transported via Yellow Cab with travel expenses paid for by the Dean of Students Office.
If at all in doubt about whom to call, contact the Residence Life professional staff member on call, or Security Services to aid in assessing the situation.
Use of Staff Personal Vehicles:
Members of the Student Affairs staff, including student and professional staff, are not to transport students in need of medical care in their own vehicles. Assumption of responsibility to take a student in a privately-owned vehicle to the hospital may not be covered under the university’s liability insurance policy.
If a student injury or illness results in a need to clean up blood or other body fluids from a campus facility, Residence Life staff should contact Security Services (x3311) to request that they call Facilities Services for appropriate response. If there is any question about this assistance, contact the DSA dean or designee on call who will assist in determining the appropriate course of action.
Sexual Assault Response
The university’s Campus Policy Prohibiting Harassment and Sexual Misconduct addresses all forms of rape, sexual assault, and other forcible and non-forcible sexual offenses of a criminal nature.
- Encourage the survivor to seek immediate medical attention (x1555 for CHWS during daytime business hours, hospital emergency room or urgent care clinic after hours or at victim request). A prompt medical examination, prior to bathing or showering, is important to check for possible injuries or infection, and to collect medical evidence needed in the event of a criminal prosecution. Collection of potential medical evidence must be done at a hospital emergency room. CHWS is not able to provide that service.
- Encourage the survivor to report the crime immediately to Security Services (x3311). Remind the victim of the option to notify the Tacoma Police Department (911 or 798-4721, depending upon the urgency of the situation), whether or not the offense is reported to Security Services. If the victim so desires, assist the victim in notifying Security Services and/or the police.
- Encourage the survivor to seek personal counseling and support from CHWS, the Pierce County Sexual Assault Center (474-7273), or another counseling service of his/her choice.
- Remind the survivor of the option to report the offense to a designated campus official in accordance with the Sexual Harassment Policy, if applicable.
- If the survivor so desires, the university will make alternative campus housing and academic arrangements (contact Assistant Dean of Students) as may be appropriate and reasonably available in the circumstances.
Student Admittance to Hospital Follow-up
- Security Services will contact the Residence Life professional staff member on call.
- The Residence Life professional staff member on duty will call the DSA dean or designee on call.
- The Residence Life professional staff member on duty will notify, if relevant, student staff members.
- The DSA dean or designee on call or the Dean will contact the student’s parent(s)/guardian(s).
- If the student is referred by a CHWS staff member to the hospital, the referring professional will ask the student to inform the CHWS staff member if she/he is admitted.
- Once informed and given authorization in writing by the student, the CHWS staff member will notify Security Services and the Dean of Students. The Dean will contact the University Chaplain who may visit a hospitalized student.
- Once released from the hospital, Residence Life staff members will assist the student with medically necessary housing requirements.
Student Treated for Alcohol-Induced Illness at Hospital but Not Admitted
If a student is transported to the hospital but is not admitted (e.g., is held for observation and/or treated in the emergency room) OR if the student is seen by medical personnel while on campus but is not transported to a medical facility, the DSA dean or designee on call informs the Dean of Students on the next working day. The Dean then informs the student that the Dean may notify the parent(s)/guardian(s) and asks the student if she/he has already informed his/her parent.
- If the student has informed the parent(s)/guardian(s), the Dean may contact the parent(s)/guardian(s) to confirm.
- If the student has not informed the parent(s)/guardian(s), the Dean discusses the situation with the student and may give the student 24 hours to contact the parent(s)/guardian(s) and then the Dean may notify the parent(s)/guardian(s).
Psychologically Distressed Students
In the event of an emergency, the first order of concern is for the physical safety and the well being of any students who may be injured, and secondly for any students affected by the crisis (i.e., witnesses, friends of victims). Getting injured students safely transported for expedited medical care must be the highest priority. In the event of psychological emergencies, medical care followed by intervention by professional mental health providers is the order of concern.
If medical emergency:
- Call Security Services (x3311).
- Send someone to the front door to direct support to the scene of the attempted suicide.
- If student lives on campus, contact the Residence Life professional staff member on call. Otherwise, call Dean on call.
- The Residence Life professional staff member on call will notify appropriate Division of Student Affairs staff members.
- The hospital personnel or the Dean of Students Office will notify the parent(s)/guardian(s) or next of kin. Do NOT release any information about the case to anyone except staff or faculty with direct need to know.
If a student has engaged in suicidal behaviors such as writing suicide notes discovered by others, writing about suicidal ideation in journals or papers turned in to professors, telling others about suicidal ideation, obtaining mechanisms which could cause harm to self, or being discovered engaging in self harm (e.g., cutting, burning, taking pills, etc.), take these behaviors seriously. Even if no immediate medical intervention is required these behaviors must be documented on the Suicide Incident Report (SIR) and forwarded to the Suicide Prevention Team, convened by the Director of Residence Life (see further details about the MARSSH protocol in section II.C. below).
If not a medical emergency:
- Give appropriate assistance, if needed. CHWS psychology staff may be contacted after hours by phoning Security Services, (x3311). Depending on the circumstances CHWS staff may speak directly with a student in crisis, may arrange a crisis appointment, or may consult with the professional staff on the scene.
Resident Directors should phone a Psychology Staff person any time they would like to consult about whether a student’s condition might call for immediate contact with a mental health provider (either on campus with CHWS staff or a transport to the hospital emergency room).
RDs should also call if they feel confident that a student is safe to wait to see a mental health provider, but judge it best that the student not wait until counseling walk-ins at 1:00 p.m. the next business day. Any counselor can arrange a special contact with the student. These crisis sessions are often at 8:00am the next morning. Counselors may speak by phone with the student directly if the RDs wish, to set this time together.
RDs are also welcome to phone a counselor after hours if they simply wish to consult about a plan of action with a student who is not at high risk of suicide but is an immediate concern to professional staff and affecting others in the community. They may consult about whether/how parents might be involved, whether a Suicide Incident Report should be written, whether to recommend a medical withdrawal, etc.
- If student lives on campus, or is currently on campus, contact the Residence Life professional staff member on call immediately. If needed, contact Security Services (x3311). If a student cannot be left alone safely, please ask someone else to contact the appropriate Residence Life professional staff member while you remain with the student. Students who are not safe to be alone for the evening should be admitted to the hospital and/or placed in the care of parent(s) or guardian(s). Puget Sound students, faculty and staff should not be responsible for maintaining the safety of a student at risk for harming self or others.
- The Residence Life professional staff member on call will notify appropriate Division of Student Affairs staff members.
Threats of Violence to Others
All specific threats of harm to others should be taken seriously. Instances when a student makes a threat of violence against a specific person or persons and/or threatens a specific violent act (e.g., bomb threat, threat to kill someone), call Security Services (x3311). Do not leave the student alone unless you feel unsafe with him or her. If needed, ask someone else to contact Security Services while you remain with the student.
- Security Services will detain the student and determine whether to contact Tacoma Police.
- After Security Services arrives, or as soon as practical, contact the Residence Life professional staff member on call.
- The Residence Life person on call will notify appropriate DSA staff members.
- Security Services will notify the appropriate segment of the campus community (e.g., for a bomb threat) or the person(s) against whom the threat was made.
The Critical Behaviors Response Team (CBRT) is the group of staff and faculty chaired by the Dean of Students charged with monitoring, evaluating and intervening when necessary with anyone on campus who may pose a threat. All information about suspicious or odd behaviors that do not arise to actual threats should be forwarded to both Security Services and the Dean of Students.
Follow-up for Suicidal Behavior
Appropriate follow up with identified students of concern as well as with their friends, members of their living units, and with families of endangered students are important roles of the Dean of Students and members of the Division of Student Affairs.
Suicidal and self-harming behaviors seriously affect the quality of life in a residential community. These behaviors not only affect the injured person, but the many concerned people around that student are impacted as well. All Student Affairs staff members (including student staff) are required to submit a Suicide Incident Report (SIR) to the Suicide Prevention Team (SPT) when they have credible information that a student has threatened or attempted suicide. Other faculty and staff are encouraged to submit SIRs. This documentation is to be completed and turned in to the Dean of Students Office as soon as possible after learning about a potentially suicidal student.
SIRs are reviewed by the SPT in a timely way, typically evaluating them within 24 hours of receipt. If, in the determination of the SPT, the SIR documents a serious and credible suicide threat or other self-harming behavior, the SPT will require the student to participate in a Mandated Assessment of Risk of Suicidality and Self Harm (MARSSH). This service is available through CHWS, or a student may elect to complete this requirement with an approved off-campus provider.
Failure to comply with this mandated assessment may result in further actions taken. These actions may include eviction from campus housing, parental/guardian notification, notification of local authorities, and removal from campus, as deemed appropriate to each case by the Dean of Students.
Response to Student Death
In the event a student dies while enrolled at the university (and is not studying abroad) the following procedures shall be used as a guideline. Since every circumstance is different, we rely on common sense to amend the procedures when necessary.
Student Death On Campus
If a student death occurs on campus, the person who finds the deceased should contact Security Services immediately (3311). Standard protocol for Residence Life student/professional staff keying into a student’s room for a welfare check is to contact Security Services so that a member of their staff joins the effort.
- Security Services shall:
- notify the Tacoma Police and/or Fire Department, depending on the circumstances of death.
- notify the Residence Life staff person on call.
- notify the Dean of Students or the DSA dean or designee on call during the weekend. This person is then authorized to begin the process below (C.) and to inform the Dean of Students as soon as possible.
- be responsible for securing the area or room until it is released by city investigators, if appropriate. Security staff may also assist in the removal of the body.
- In addition, the first person on the scene should:
- keep other persons from viewing the victim and the surroundings.
- prohibit access to the body, or to the surroundings, to anyone other than Security staff, Tacoma Police and/or Fire Department officials, or the Dean of Students or designees.
- collect names of individuals who might provide information to university officials or law enforcement authorities.
- ask questions to identify all individuals who might be most affected by the death (family members, partner/spouse, faculty members, advisor, work supervisor, close friends, etc.).
- direct all inquiries about the cause of death to the Dean of Students, Director of Security Services, or Executive Director of Communications.
Student Death Off Campus
If the student death occurs off campus (for instance, if the student lives off campus or is off campus due to a holiday) the Dean of Students (or the DSA dean or designee on call) should be contacted by whoever receives news of the death. (879-3360, 8-12 & 1-5 M-F or 3311 to contact the DSA dean or designee on call).
Notification of Death
The Dean of Students (or designee), upon notification of the death, shall inform by phone or e-mail:
- the President (or designee), who will decide when and who should make official contact with the parent(s), guardian or partner/spouse. This notification cannot take place until the deceased has been identified positively by the coroner. This may take several days depending on the condition of the body. The President's office is responsible for sending flowers or other condolences to family, etc., as appropriate. (879-3201, email@example.com)
- the Associate Dean, who will assist the Dean of Students in any fashion required and will also alert the Counseling Health & Wellness staff and/or the Chaplain, and/or the Director for Multicultural Student Services, when appropriate to set up a support network for the residence staff, residential and non-residential students. (879-3322 or 879-3778, firstname.lastname@example.org)
- the Chaplain (or his designee), who will make contact with the family only after they have been officially notified by the President. The Chaplain in consultation with the CHWS Chief Psychologist will also contact Residence Life staff to see if services should be offered to staff or residential students. In addition, the Chaplain can make contact with other clergy and/or local mortuaries, as needed. The Chaplain will write the official letter notifying the entire campus (after consultation with the Dean) and will handle funeral and/or memorial service arrangements after consultation with the Dean and the family. (879-3374 or 879-3818, email@example.com)
- the CHWS Chief Psychologist, who will set up support groups for residential and non-residential students as needed, with assistance from the Chaplain and if appropriate, ASUPS senators. If a student death occurs on campus outside of regular business hours, the CHWS Chief Psychologist will decide how best to manage student calls for counseling support and assistance. CHWS will also print and distribute fliers about their services, about handling grief and loss, and/or about suicide, if appropriate. (879-1555, firstname.lastname@example.org)
- the Registrar and Director of Academic Advising, who will notify the student's professors and advisor. (879-3529, email@example.com; 879-3651, firstname.lastname@example.org)
- the ASUPS President. (879-3600 or 879-3273, email@example.com)
- the Associate VP for Human Resources, who will be responsible for working with LifeEra, and CHWS to set up support as needed for the faculty and staff. (879-3116, firstname.lastname@example.org)
- the Executive Director of Communications, who may issue a press release, after consultation with the Dean of Students. (879-3905, email@example.com)
- if a campus-wide email message is desired, the Dean of Students will work with the Executive Director of Communications to contact the Technology Services (Security Services has a phone list, x3311). Staff should recognize that it will take at least three hours for a campus-wide message to reach all mailboxes. Any messages to the campus should include information about overall safety of the campus for those living in residence.
- the Dean of Students will ask a staff member to conduct a web search on the name of the student who has died in order to locate any postings that may be of concern. If needed, the Dean or his designee will work with the appropriate Technology Services staff member (contacted via Security Services) to block access to postings on the university web site until parent(s)/guardians have an opportunity to make decisions about the information.
- the Director of Alumni and Parent Relations, Allison Cannady-Smith, who may receive calls from parents of other students. (879-3450; firstname.lastname@example.org)
- the other executive officers, for their information. (879-3205, email@example.com), (879-3901 firstname.lastname@example.org), (879-3211, email@example.com), (879-3204, firstname.lastname@example.org) (879-3237, email@example.com)
- the Associate VP for Student Financial Services (879-3198, firstname.lastname@example.org)
- the Director of Career and Employment Services, who will check the employment status of the student and contact the supervisor (879-3161, email@example.com)
- the International Student Coordinator (879-2871, firstname.lastname@example.org) will be notified if the deceased student is an international student -- and will work with the Dean of Students to decide when and who should make official contact with the family or guardian. A list of current international students will be maintained on file in the Office of the Dean of Students and Security. The International Student Coordinator will notify the appropriate embassy or consulate, which will establish procedures for contacting the family overseas and will provide help in obtaining emergency passport, visa and other documentation, and language assistance, where needed. The International Student Coordinator will act as the university’s contacts for the embassy or consulate and the deceased’s family, working with the Dean of Students to notify the appropriate on-campus offices.
Requests for Information
Requests for information by non-university parties should be referred to the Executive Director of Communications unless directed otherwise. If circumstances warrant, the Vice President for University Relations (or designee) will establish an 800 line to handle calls from the media and concerned parents. Requests for information from parents of current students should be directed to the Director of Parent Programs or the Dean of Students Office.
If appropriate, the Dean of Students will appoint staff responsible for closing up the student's room and shipping personal effects, after consultation with the family and Security.
The Dean of Students will send a memo verifying the death to:
- Registrar for notation in file and deletion from registration packets and current registration.
- Data Processing and Information Systems for deletion of student name from any active databases.
- Associate VP for Student Financial Services for appropriate attention to accounts and updating of financial aid and scholarship records.
- ASUPS for the yearbook.
- Library for remission of fines and collection of books.
- Director of Career and Employment Services for updating of student employment records.
- Director of Counseling, Health & Wellness Services for updating CHWS records.
The Dean of Students is also responsible for making arrangements for the family to come to campus and for arranging their meetings, if desired (e.g., with the President, Chaplain, faculty, or friends). The Dean of Students will continue to monitor the campus climate for six months following the death by consulting with his/her senior staff to evaluate the need for further support groups or other activities to help the campus grieve and heal.
Scholarship or Memorial Fund
The President may discuss with the family, after a reasonable length of time, the possibility of creating a scholarship fund or memorial fund. The Vice President for University Relations will work with his staff to follow through with the family's wishes, if any.