These guidelines and an emergency response procedure as outlined below are the result of extensive discussions with senior police officers and the Campus Protection Unit. They are designed to provide maximum protection and assistance to staff and students involved in off-campus university related activities. These guidelines can only be effective if followed as outlined. This is particularly important in terms of the emergency response procedure. NB: Initiating an emergency response must be taken very seriously by everyone involved. This is a complex and very expensive exercise. Unless the procedure below is followed exactly there is a likelihood of false alarm, which if they occur with any frequency, will minimise the effectiveness of the response.
- Familiarise yourself with the list of “DOs and DON’Ts” listed below for off-campus activities and field-trips.
- Identify a reliable contact person to whom you will report your movements. Ensure that this person can be contacted at all times while you are away. They must be fully informed of your movements and agree on times when you will make contact. It is probably best to allocate three contact times a day, such as 9:00, 12:00 and 16:00.
- Contact Campus Protection (046-603 8146/7) to obtain phone numbers of the nearest Police Station/s to your research/ field site.
- When you arrive at your research/ field site, proceed to the nearest Police Station and report to the duty officer. Indicate your departure time and date from the area. Leave a copy of your travel form with the duty officer.
- When you have completed your activities in the area, report your departure to the police station.
- Ensure that you report to your contact person at the stipulated times each day.
- Should you fail to report to your contact person at the agreed times, this person (and ONLY this person) must contact Campus Protection who will then set in motion an EMERGENCY RESPONSE PROCEDURE. This procedure has been agreed upon with senior police officers and will be treated with the highest priority. PLEASE NOTE: Your contact person must only contact Campus Protection and should NOT contact the police directly.
- The IWR, Institute for Water Research has adopted this protocol internally with great success. For advice contact them at 046 603 8532.
DO’s and DON’Ts FOR FIELD WORKERS
All of us are vulnerable to violent crime, sometimes field work makes us more vulnerable. Every situation is different and there is no magic formula to guarantee our safety, but there are things we should and shouldn’t do. Most important: BE AWARE and USE YOUR COMMON SENSE
- Follow the safety guidelines as outlined above.
- Know that help is at hand. The University Emergency Response Centre is there all day, every day. They will organise a rapid, co-ordinated response to an emergency. Know this number: 046-603 8146/7.
- Check the crime climate. The police can offer up-to-the-minute advice on the crime climate in a given area. You can ask for this information when you report to the station and drop off your travel form.
- Where/when? Make sure others know where you are going and when you will be back. You can register with the local police station in their “Occurrence Book”. They will record when you arrive and when you leave the area.
- Carry ID and medical aid details.
- Be wired. Carry a cell phone. You can save an emergency SMS on your phone that can be sent by hitting a single button.
- Follow your instincts. If anything looks suspicious, get out. Quickly.
- Make contact with the local community. They can be your best friends.
- Think ahead. Plan for trouble and rehearse your reactions.
- Ensure that you do not travel after dark, try to reach your evening destination by 16:00 each day and call your contact person when you arrive (at 16:00).
- Don’t travel alone. Organise a companion or fellow researcher to accompany you.
- Drive defensively. Don’t travel at night. Keep your doors locked. If you see something suspicious, like a makeshift roadblock, don’t leave your car. Reverse fast or drive through and let the car take the damage. We can fix it later. If you are hijacked, hand over the car immediately. We can buy another.
- No hitch-hikers.
- Good Samaritan? If someone needs help (an accident or a breakdown) use your judgement, but be conservative. If in doubt, pass by and head straight for the nearest police station or phone for help.
- Don’t wear flashy jewellery, cameras etc.
- Don’t carry a gun. It makes you a target.
DEALING WITH SERIOUS SITUATIONS
After doing all the right things, you can still get in trouble. Serious situations involve the threat of violence: kidnapping, mugging, hijacking, threat of rape etc. Because effective responses depend entirely on the situation, what works in one situation may not in another. Here are a few guidelines for effective responses. Remember, staying alive is your first priority. No heroics. Obey instructions from your assailant, minimise violence.
Think, don’t panic. Your mind is your best defence.
Evaluate the situation. Is there someone near who can help you? Can you escape?
Potential victims have avoided attacks by talking their way out of the situation.
Don’t resist unless it will help you to escape or you have already been attacked.
If you have been attacked and resistance doesn’t work, concentrate on your attacker’s identity: height, age, hair colour, accent, scars, clothing. Anything that may help to identify him/her later on.
Pepper Sprays can be bought from Frontier Arms inside AN White, Hill Street (it may also be an option to contact the SRC for pepper sprays). Using a pepper spray may give you that small amount of extra time to get away.