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Serious Emergencies

Serious emergencies are of two basic types — those that expose one or two individuals to personal injury (burn, shock, poisoning, etc.) and those that endanger lives and property in the whole building. In either sort of emergency situation you should get help at once. This may be done by:

  • calling for help from people nearby, and/or
  • calling the University Public Safety Office at 911 from a CAMPUS phone or 684-2444 from a cell phone.

If you and/or the people nearby successfully handle the emergency without calling Campus Police, you still need to report the emergency within 24 hours to the Departmental Safety Coordinator and to Campus Police at 684-2444 (the 911 number should not be used for this type of report).

Personal Injury

Except for trivial accidents, call the University Public Safety Office by dialing 911 from a CAMPUS phone or 684-2444 from a CELL phone. State clearly:

  • What the emergency is
  • Where the emergency is
  • Who is calling
  • Where to pick up victim
  • Do not hang up the phone until the dispatcher hangs up.

The car from the Public Safety Office should arrive within 5 minutes.

First Aid

Give First Aid only if there is an immediate life threatening accident or if the accident is trivial; otherwise await the arrival of qualified safety personnel or paramedics. If you believe that you must provide first aid, here are some suggestions.

  • Thermal Burns In the case of a burn, apply cold water and/or ice immediately to the burned area until the pain subsides. Wrap the burned area to protect from infection. It is best to avoid oils and ointments in first aid treatment since these frequently complicate the physician's job. If the burns are extensive, treat for shock (see following) and call Public Safety (911 from a CAMPUS phone or 684-2444 from a cell phone) for transportation.
  • Chemical Burns Flush the affected area at least 15 minutes with tap water. Acid or minor bromine burns may then be treated with 5% sodium carbonate solution. Alkali burns can be washed with 5% acetic acid solution or saturated boric acid solution. Wrap the burned area loosely . Call 911 from a CAMPUS phone or 684-2444 from a cell phone for severe burns.
  • Burns from the following chemicals hydrofluoric acid, white phosphorus and phenol require special treatment. If these chemicals are to be handled, be sure that you know the first aid treatment before they are used. See their MSDS sheets.
  • Minor Bleeding: Allow the blood to flow a few moments. Flush the wound thoroughly with water. Apply an antiseptic and bandage the wound to prevent contamination.
  • Toxic Fumes If there are complaints of a headache or dizziness in a laboratory in which the odors of such toxic gases as chlorine, hydrogen sulfide, nitrogen oxides, etc., are even detectable, see that the victim is taken to fresh air immediately and made to rest. Do not permit the victim to move unless the symptoms disappear rapidly. Also clear all others from the laboratory until the problem can be clearly identified and remedied. Call 911 from a CAMPUS phone or 684-2444 from a cell phone.
  • Fainting and Shock Any or all of the following are symptoms of shock: chill, trembling, shortness of breath, pallor, nausea, excessive perspiration. In such cases, the patient should be placed in a prone position with head lower than feet. Loosen tight clothing and keep patient warm. Call 911 from a CAMPUS phone or 684-2444 from a CELL phone and request transportation.
  • Chemical Splashes Safety Showers and Eye Washes are located in each of the laboratories. Since it has been conclusively proven that immediate washing of the skin with a generous amount of water is the most effective first aid treatment for chemical burns. Pulling the ring hanging from a safety shower will cause the rapid discharge of water. Be sure to leave the ring hanging freely at the end of the chain at all times. For a major chemical splash or clothing on fire, have no hesitation to use the shower in your laboratory. For less serious splashes requiring change of clothes, use the showers located in the restrooms. All of the research and teaching laboratories are also equipped with eye wash fountains in case a chemical splashes in the eyes.

Proper documentation and follow-up are the keys to preventing recurrence of any accident. The form to be filled out in the event of any personal injury, fire or chemical spill is available here. If an injury occurs to an employee or teaching assistant who requires medical attention, then an Work-Related Injury or Illness form must be completed within 24 hours online via the Duke Human Resources website. The form requires you to enter your immediate supervisor's name.  For personnel working in research labs, the immediate supervisor is your PI.

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Emergencies Requiring Outside Professionals (Police, Fire Department)

If the emergency endangers lives and property in the building, you or someone helping you will need to pull the red alarm levers which will call the University Public Safety Officers and which is the signal for evacuating the building. (See section on evacuation for details of evacuation plan for the building.) The alarm pull stations are located near exit doors. Call, or have someone call, Duke Public Safety at 911 from a CAMPUS phone or 684-2444 from a CELL phone and give the following information concerning the emergency:

  • Location - Room _____, French Family Science Center. What you see: Flame or smoke. Flame and smoke. Describe smell of smoke. Describe odor of gas. Serious injuries involved. What is burning or what was spilled. Flammable liquids (kind), combustibles (kind), toxic substance, etc. Quantity in room, if known. Name of caller.Phone number where you can be reached. Stay on the phone until the dispatcher hangs up.
  • You or people helping you should be sure that:In an emergency situation the hierarchy of responsibility for determining who is in charge until the professional safety personnel arrive is as follows:As soon as professional safety personnel arrive, they have the responsibility and authority to take charge of the situation, although they may still need the help of Chemistry Department personnel. In a case of more serious accidents where there is injury and the possibility of a fire or explosion, the City Public Safety Officers (firemen and police) may be called to the French Family Science Center. When they are here, they have the responsibility of assuming as much authority for what is done as they consider appropriate. This means that they can call for evacuation of the building, and if they do, their orders are to be complied with at once without question. Failure to do so or to offer resistance to the orders of a Public Safety Officer can result in arrest. It is important to understand that Public Safety Officers are not chemists and may not be able to size up or appreciate the difference between small and large hazards as they would appear to us. They do, however, have the legally constituted responsibility and authority to deal with potentially hazardous situations and often must start by assuming a "worst case scenario" although the real hazard may quickly turn out to be small. Since all research personnel have been trained to respond to building evacuation orders there should be little problem in closing down an experiment for 10 to 15 minutes until the responsible Public Safety Officer has been satisfied that the building may be reoccupied safely.
    1. emergency personnel from outside the French Family Science Center have been called,
    2. initial steps have been taken to deal with the situation, such as administering first aid (if qualified), containing or extinguishing a fire or closing all fire doors if you are unable to fight the fire, cleaning up a chemical spill, etc.,
    3. information on the hazards of the situation or injured person will be given to professional safety personnel when they arrive,
    4. the appropriate research director(s) and officers of the department have been informed of the emergency situation.
    5. faculty supervisor of the group having the accident,
    6. the postdoctoral or graduate student Safety Officer for the laboratory or research group involved with the emergency,
    7. any other member of the group having the accident or any faculty member.

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Emergency Evacuation

In the event of a serious emergency such as fire, explosion or release of hazardous gas, the building must be evacuated. This requirement is not only to remove those present in the building from potential hazard, but to clear the way for firemen or Safety Officers who are responsible for handling the emergency. The FOUR emergency access routes that may be used by emergency responders coming to the French Family Science Center are the front of the building (facing Research Drive), the LaSalle Street entrance in front of Phytotron, the Chemistry Parking lot entrance between Gross and FFSC, and the entrance behind the Physics Building.

If an evacuation alarm is sounded, before leaving a lab, you should shut down all experiments as quickly and safely as possible using common sense as your guide. This should include removing heat, releasing pressure or vacuum, and turning off electrical appliances. When you exit from a lab; leave the lights turned on, close the doors to the room, but leave the doors unlocked. Follow the designated evacuation route from your lab using the stairs, not the elevator. Move to a designated safe area that has been pre-arranged for your lab and meet with the other members of your research group to verify that everyone has left the building. Inform emergency responders if a member of your group remains in/did not make it out of the building.  

Electrical exit signs have been installed throughout the building. Follow the overhead exit signs or take the nearest stairway down and exit from the building. 
 

  • If you are on an upper floor in the south end (the Gross Chemistry end) of the French Family Science Center, take stairs down to level-1, exit and go to your right on to the grassy area near the greenhouses located behind the French Family Science Center. Designated as "Safe area #2" marked in green on the diagram below. Remain in the grassy area until instructed by authorities to move further from the building or to return to the building.
  • If you are located on an upper floor near the middle of the building, take stairs down to the main lobby (level-2) and exit by the front doors out to the grassy terraced area in front of the French Family Science Center. Designated as "Safe area #1" marked in green on the diagram below. Remain in the terraced area until instructed by authorities to return to the building.
  • If you are on an upper floor in the north end (the Physics end) of the French Family Science Center, take stairs down to level-2, exit and go to your left to the raised concrete parking area behind the Physics building. Designated as "Safe area #3" marked in green on the diagram below. Remain in the parking area until instructed by authorities to move further from the building or to return to the building.
  • Teaching assistants with laboratory classes on level-1 should tell their students to check their experiments carefully before leaving to see that everything is turned off and safe until they can return to the laboratory and then evacuate and the building immediately. The class should be told to follow the evacuation route indicated by electrical exit signs and to gather together as a group in the grassy area near the greenhouses located behind French Family Science Center, designated as "Safe area #2" marked in green on the diagram below, OR near the statue of the camel, designated as "Safe area #4. Remain in these grassy areas until instructed by authorities to move further from the building or to return to the building.
  • If you are otherwise on level-1, follow the overhead electrical exit signs that will take you to the nearest exit that takes you onto the grassy area near the greenhouses located behind the French Family Science Center. Designated as "Safe area #2" marked in green on the diagram below. Remain in the grassy area until instructed by authorities to move further from the building or to return to the building.

During fire drills a verbal all-clear signal will be given by an authority when you may return to the building. Do not return to the building until the all-clear signal is given. Evacuation drills will be held twice per year as required by the City of Durham Fire Marshall. Total evacuation of the building is required during evacuation drills. In addition to the drills, the fire alarm system is tested once per year. It should be recognized that any building evacuation, either in a drill or in a genuine emergency situation, may interfere with experiments that are underway. You should keep this possibility in mind and consider as part of your preparation for any experiment the question of how you can safely close it down in an emergency with minimum damage to your work.
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Procedures in Case of Electrical Power Failure of Loss of Water Pressure

If the power fails, a backup generator will come on within about 30 seconds. Notify Maintenance immediately of a power outage or loss of water pressure by calling 684-2122, 8 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday. At other times, try the same number first, but call Public Safety at 684-2444 if you get a recorded message indicating that no maintenance workers are on duty.

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http://chem.duke.edu/sites/chem.duke.edu/files/uploads//IncidentReportForm_1.pdf