Public safety officers are on campus 24 hours each day, seven days per week. There is always a supervisor on duty, and usually four or five officers patrol the campus on foot, on bicycles, or in marked or unmarked cars.

If you need help, there are several ways to alert the Department of Public Safety (DPS):

1. Blue Lights: There are over 75 blue lights on campus. Pushing the button on the blue light sends a signal to DPS that you need assistance. Many strategically placed cameras allow the dispatcher in the office to evaluate the situation and place a priority on the call.

2. Panic Buttons: Each residence hall room in Ballard West is equipped with a panic button that sends a signal to DPS that you need assistance.

3. Telephones: DPS can be contacted by calling 202-651-5444 (TTY) and 202-651-5555 (Voice/Video Phone).

4. E-mail: DPS can be contacted by e-mail at Contact.

5. Office: The DPS Office is open 24 hours each day. It is located in the Basement of Carlin Hall.

Officers are expected to respond to calls within five minutes. There may be times, although hopefully rare, when there are more emergencies than there are officers on campus. Every effort is made to prioritize emergencies so that the officers can respond to those of the greatest need. Emergencies that are considered life threatening receive the highest priority. If your emergency is not life threatening, please be patient. Help will come. If your emergency is life threatening and DPS has not been able to respond, you should dial 911. The DC Metropolitan Police Department’s emergency line is TTY compatible, and operators are available to assist you 24 hours a day.


Department of Public Safety (DPS) 202-651-5444 (TTY)202-651-5555 (Voice/Video Phone) Contact
D.C. Metropolitan Police202-727-9099 (voice)
Non-emergency 202-727-1010 (TTY)Emergency 911 (TTY/Voice)


Know these basic guidelines:

  • Be aware of the surrounding area.
  • Learn where emergency exits are. Think about how you would leave a building, subway, or busy place if there was an emergency and you had to hurry.
  • Look around you. Be aware of heavy things that could fall or glass that could break. Move away from them if you can.
  • Stay calm and follow the directions of emergency personnel and University officials.
  • Be careful when traveling. Be aware of someone behaving unusually. Do not accept packages from strangers. Do not leave your luggage unattended. Always have it with you so that no one can put something into it.
  • Know the emergency evacuation routes in campus buildings where you spend most of your time.

If you are a student who has a disability and you will need assistance during an evacuation, contact the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSWD) now. Staff members will work with you to develop an individual emergency plan, which will be used to help you during an emergency evacuation.

If you live off-campus, you should have a personal plan for what you will do and who you will contact if a city-wide emergency happens while you are at home. The Web resources below will help you to decide the best plan for you. Be sure that your family knows your plan.

If you live off-campus and are at home when a citywide emergency happens, you may come to campus if you are able. Contact DPS to let them know where you are and find out if it is advisable to come to campus. Once you arrive on campus, report to DPS to let them know you are here and to get further instructions.


During an emergency, it is very important to know who is on campus and who is not. During an emergency, University officials want to be able to account for each person who is supposed to be on campus. For this reason, we encourage you to make sure someone at the University (e.g. RA, GA, CRE, Academic Advisor) knows where you can be located if you leave campus. This recommendation is for your safety. It is not meant to invade your privacy.

If you are off campus when an emergency happens (e.g., at an internship site), please call or page DPS to let us know that you are safe.


The University Notification System is a system that includes several methods of notification which are not based on sound. If an emergency occurs, any method or combination of methods may be used to communicate about the emergency and procedures to follow.

Listed below are different methods that the University may use in communicating with the University community:

  • Fire Bell/Strobe Light – People should evacuate the building and go to an assembly area.
  • Campus-wide E-mail – Follow the instructions in the e-mail.
  • Gallaudet Alert – Follow the instructions in the message.
  • Emergency Broadcast Announcement – An emergency broadcast message that will pop-up on computer screens. Follow displayed instructions.
  • Flashing Blue Lights at Blue Emergency Button Stations – The flashing lights symbolize an immediate campus evacuation to the Primary Evacuation Site (or Secondary Evacuation Site if the primary site is affected).
  • Cable TV Interrupt – An emergency broadcast message that will interrupt all channels. Follow displayed instructions.
  • Person-to-person Messages – spread by people in the buildings.
  • Emergency and Evacuation Signage on Exit Doors – Follow the instructions on these signs.
  • Orange Flags on DPS Bicycles and Vehicles – Follow the same procedures as the flashing blue flights – evacuate to the primary (or secondary) site immediately.


In the event of a building evacuation, building occupants should move to an assembly area near the building’s main entrance, away from pathways and streets (which should be kept open for emergency vehicles and personnel).


The primary evacuation site for the University is the Field House. KDES and MSSD primary and secondary evacuation sites are the gyms of their respective buildings. If neither gym is available, then the Kellogg Conference Hotel is the back-up evacuation site.


The secondary evacuation site for the University is the Kellogg Conference Hotel.


Gallaudet Alert is an email system based on a listserv. It works this way:

1. The University President or his/her designee notifies the Department of Public Safety (DPS) of an unexpected closing (because of snow, for example), an emergency, or any other unusual situation.

2. DPS sends the message using the listserv.

3. All people who have subscribed to the listserv receive the announcement immediately.

The announcement can be sent to: email, pagers, cell phones (with text capability), laptops, PCs, and PDAs. You can subscribe to the listserv on more than one device, for example, your pager and your PC.

How to Subscribe to the Listserv:

1. Use the device with the address to which you want the alert sent.

2. With this device, send a completely blank message and nothing in the subject line to:

3. After the listserv has received your blank email, Gallaudet Alert will send you an acknowledgment and give you instructions to have your address added to the alert list. You will need to follow instructions in order to be added.


A basic personal emergency kit would include: flashlight and extra batteries, pager batteries, first aid kit, non-perishable packaged food, bottled water, prescription medications, an extra set of keys, blanket, family contact information, paper and pencil. In an emergency, you should be sure to have your wallet or purse for identification, emergency funds, prescription medications, and keys.

There are Web resources that provide information about personal emergency kits, kits for people with disabilities, and emergency supplies for families and pets. Read about the different kinds of kits and make the one that will best fit your needs.



The first type of evacuation is known as stay in place and is used during a chemical or biological attack. You should stay inside your building. Do not go outside. If a chemical agent is used, you will be advised to go to the highest floor in your building because the chemical is probably “heavy” and will not tend to go up. Other “stay in place” situations may call for going to the lowest floor possible in the building. These upper and lower floors will be designated “safe areas” within each building.

The Facilities Department is responsible for turning off the HVAC systems in each building, if warranted.

Once inside the safe areas, your options for communication with the outside world may be limited depending on circumstances. In the event that communication is limited, DPS officers will know where to find you when it is safe to come out. We will not attempt to seal windows with duct tape and plastic.

Most of the time, we should expect to be in a safe area not more than 6 to 8 hours. The maximum amount of time we should expect to be there is 48 hours. Please refer to page 103-104 for information concerning the safe areas for each building on campus. Know the safe areas in the buildings you use. Go to the designated safe areas when requested to do so.

The second type of evacuation is a building evacuation. We use this when we do regular fire drills. Everyone must leave a building and move to an outside assembly area. Go outside to the assembly area and wait for DPS to advise when it is safe to re-enter the building. Know the fastest routes for evacuating your building. Plan your routes now.

The third type of evacuation is a campus evacuation. In this event, we will move to the Field House as our primary site and the Kellogg Conference Hotel as the secondary site. In the event of a campus evacuation, it will be important for us to account for everyone. Please communicate with your colleagues and friends about your whereabouts. If a disaster strikes, and we know where you are, we can spare your family and relatives a lot of needless anxiety.

The fourth type of evacuation is a city evacuation. In this event, the Crisis Leadership Team will report to the Field House. Maps of city evacuation routes will be available but we advise you to have them handy in advance. Depending on how much time we have, various procedures will be implemented. DPS officers are responsible for opening the gates, as needed. Priority use of University buses will be given to students at KDES and MSSD and to people with disabilities.


How will I know if I should evacuate or stay where I am?

In some emergencies, it may be better not to leave the place where you are and go to another location. The safest action may be to stay exactly where you are. You will be notified through the University Notification System about whether or not you should evacuate.

What should I do in an emergency requiring evacuation of areas on campus?

Often, the best protection in an emergency is to evacuate from where you are and move to a safer place. For example, when a fire alarm goes off in a campus building, the University requires that everyone in that building leave it and move to an identified assembly area. It is impossible to anticipate or specifically define every possible circumstance that will require an evacuation. The following is a general guide that is applicable for most evacuations:

1. Evacuations from buildings will occur when the fire alarm sounds and flashes continuously and/or upon notification by the Department of Public Safety. If you see a fire and the alarm is not on, pull the nearest fire alarm.

2. Remain calm and shut down equipment, if possible, without endangering yourself or others.

3. Do not attempt to collect personal items except for your wallet or purse. If your Emergency Kit is nearby, take it with you. Before opening a door, feel it for heat. If it is hot, do not open it. Do not break windows unless absolutely necessary for ventilation and escape. If it is safe to leave, close doors, but do not lock them. If you are trapped in a closed room, residents in Ballard West can press the emergency panic button in their room.

4. All people in the building should walk quickly to the nearest exit and ask others to do the same.

5. Persons with disabilities will need your assistance in exiting the building. Do not use elevators, unless authorized to do so by a DPS officer, police, or fire department personnel.

6. Once outside, all people should move to a clear area away from the affected building. Streets and walkways need to be clear for emergency vehicles and personnel.

7. No one should return to the building unless directed to do so by the Department of Public Safety.


General Guidelines

If you are a student with a disability who may need assistance during a crisis, it is strongly recommended to establish a system now that assures you get the help you need. Work with the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSWD) to develop an individual plan for how you will handle various types of emergency situations. If you need assistance and do not have a plan, it will be more difficult to assure your safety.

In any emergency situation, if an individual wants to help a person with a disability, always ASK how you can help BEFORE giving assistance. Ask how s/he can best be assisted or moved, and whether there are any special considerations or items that need to come with the person.

DO NOT use elevators, unless authorized to do so by a DPS officer, police or fire personnel. Never use elevators if there is fire or structural damage to the building.

If the situation is life-threatening, contact DPS or call 911.

While it is best to follow the individual’s emergency plan, in the event of an imminent life-threatening situation, no one should hesitate to assist a person with a disability to evacuate a building, using whatever means possible.

Assisting People with Disabilities – Responses to Emergencies

People who are mobility-impaired (those who use a wheelchair) – When the alarm is activated, people using wheelchairs should either stay in place or move to a safe place and wait for assistance from your Floor Captain, a member of the DC Fire Department, or other trained emergency personnel. Emergency personnel are trained to go to areas of refuge to assist people with disabilities. If the person with a disability is alone, s/he should contact DPS or call 911. S/he should give the present location or area of refuge to which s/he is going. Elevators can be used only if authorized by emergency personnel, but must never be used in the event of fire or structural damage.

People who are mobility-impaired (those who do not use a wheelchair) – People with mobility-impairments who are able to walk independently may be able to negotiate stairs in an emergency with minor assistance. In an actual evacuation, these individuals may choose to wait until the heavy traffic has cleared before attempting the stairs. If there is no imminent danger, the person with a disability may choose to stay in the building or move to an area of refuge until emergency personnel arrive. Elevators can be used only if authorized by emergency personnel, but must never be used in the event of fire or structural damage.

Persons who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing – Most areas and rooms in University buildings are equipped with fire bells and strobe lights that simultaneously sound an alarm (auditory) and flash strobe lights (visual). Although this system is intended to alert deaf and hard of hearing individuals, they may not notice or hear emergency alarms and may need to be alerted to emergency situations.

People with a sight disability – People with sight disabilities are generally familiar with their immediate surroundings and frequently travelled routes. Nonetheless, because the emergency evacuation route might be different from commonly travelled routes, people who have a sight disability should be assisted to exit the building.

People who are Deaf and Blind or Partially Sighted – People who are deaf and blind or partially sighted will need to be alerted to emergency situations. People who are deaf and blind or partially sighted may be familiar with their immediate surroundings and frequently travelled routes. Nonetheless, because the emergency evacuation route might be different from commonly travelled routes, people who are deaf and blind or partially sighted should be assisted to exit the building.


We will use every means possible to communicate urgent information to members of the campus community. In the event that there is no power, or phones and pagers are blocked, we must have a visual way of communicating rapidly. For each type of evacuation, we have created visual symbols. We intend to post these rapidly in the residence halls and campus buildings, on doors and windows, to alert the campus community about which type of evacuation is being used. Routes to building safe areas should already be marked at the time of this printing.

Links to Web resources:

Federal Government Emergency Preparedness Resources at

Gallaudet University:

Emergency Preparedness Guide

Red Cross:

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