Come on, man, you had one job

I notice there are some aesthetically pleasing steel boxes around campus. They say EMERGENCY on them. Solar panels: Awesome. Blue Flashing Lights: Fun. A largely visible phone number to contact campus security: Practical (also contradictory to a previous article, more on that later). I can’t yet imagine that these actually do some good. How much did they cost and what practical use do they have? Maybe a loud alarm goes off and these blue lights flash in order to scare the rapist, bear, or fire away? You know, hoping something productive would happen in the precious amount of running-away time you lost. You know, hoping you’re not a fucked-to-death burnt pile of half digested bear stool by the time help arrives to your flashing steel emergency station. Enough, you say, of fun scenarios. I must read about some real investigating! Or shut up and just push the damn button and tell me what happens! Agreed. Someone decided to put them there for (hopefully) a reason. I will take up this cause and get to the bottom of this.
My quest begins at the semi-hard-to-find Security office. I get to talk to the Head of Security and he sits outside on a bench with me to chat. “When someone presses the button at one of these stations”, which is “basically a phone in a box”, a call goes to the security cell phones. After speaking to the button pusher, a blue light goes off but there is no siren or noise to speak of. He senses my disappointment. I guess it only makes sense because, studies do show, both fires and rapists feel 80% calmer and less agitated when blue lights are flashed at them. A siren would just piss them off. So it’s not just about cosmetic features here. The call ID tells the guards where the call comes from. “These phones are always in someone’s possession and are totally in security’s interest to answer as fast as possible.” The guards are timed on their response by their employers. The calls possibly involve first aid or dangerousness, where time is of the essence. I didn’t realize that all the campus security is trained as our first response in first aid cases. “There is a first aid room in the corner of Arbutus that not many people know about”. I get a sense that the man takes his job seriously and doesn’t want anyone to think that he or his guards are incompetent. I understand what he is getting at. He didn’t decide to put the boxes up, but he’ll use them to do his job. The stations are becoming a little more valuable, or at least less mind-boggling. You're a very persuasive and well-spoken man, Head of Security. Well played, chap. Well played. So yes, a ghost may maul you as you use the station. So by the time you push the button you've been haunted to shit and your iPod has been stolen. What's the alternative? It will take a while for security to get to you once you push the button. They aren’t outfitted with jetpacks, yet. Say they are fast runners and have passed their ghost busting training course. What the fuck kind of expectations do we have here, anyways? I'm pretty sure hiring a full time Airborne Special Weapons and Tactics team would be great fun, but probably expensive or something.
Anyway, I wanted to press the button. But the head guard expressly articulated that the buttons shouldn’t be pressed for fun or experimentation purposes. They are first aid lines and they do tie up the first aid responders of the school. I didn’t test the boxes or the guards. Foiled again! I had a chart set up for the Response Times vs How Fast I Feel the Gaurds were Running/Not-Running and it would have been great and colourful and maybe there would have been a graph. The question of how long the response time is left a mystery and not likely to be answered, ever. How much did the boxes cost to replace? What was wrong with the old ones? Mr Ian Robertson has those answers, hopefully.
There are phone numbers on the stations. Now they are up in the form of a sticker, so I’m not sure when they were put up. Having access to the phone number is essentially the same thing as pushing the button. Calling gives you the option of running away with cell phone in hand. You’re free to flee from zombies or H1N1or downed electrical wires while talking to security. If we’re making a pros/cons list, the down side is that emergency personnel don’t know where you are anymore. You aren’t near Station East #8, it’s more like “Yes, I’m being chased by a very pissed off cheetah or perhaps panther, in the woods.”
So I didn’t test the box. Others have – security asks what the problem is and get there in X amount of time. There is value in even an empty, non-functional box. Like a fake security camera. These beacons of hope may hold preventative potential. “The more visible the security, the safer.” The Head of Security says, echoing in my head like a wise sage of five minutes ago.

Shaun McPherson

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