Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Factors, reports and prevention

Which of the factors listed may contribute to a student who goes missing. Explain interpretations.

Design issues / Inadequate equipment functioning.
  • automatically locking doors. Some archive storage facilities, some commercial fridge/freezers, and some older building that have retained old "bank vaults" have automatically locking doors. These are dangerous as often a person can be locked inside without being able to re-open the door. Our missing student could have been doing a quick task for a staff member and has accidentally been locked inside a device.
Lack of experience/ Lack of training.

  • At times mentors are used to accompany students on social events rather than staff. Although all mentors are provided with extensive ongoing training, their lack of experience, particularly if a stressful situation unfolds, could mare their decision making processes. In this instance, a mentor with a bus load of 54 bustling students, perhaps taken on a day bush walking trip / bbq, with a mini-crisis unfolding (say a student falls ill), may miscount the number of students that should be on the bus at departure time. Hence our "missing student" could be left behind - if the student was lost in the bush to begin with, this can become life threatening.
Inadequate supervision.

  • If the student was assigned a task and did not reappear following that task, staff ought to be alert to notice and follow up. eg: self locking door.
  • As with the bush bbq incident above - inadequate supervision of students.
Environment eg: floor / ground surface.

  • Not likely in Toowoomba with our complete lack of rain - but in areas that get torrential rain, flash floods - students can be caught unaware of the danger of crossing water covered roads - on foot or in a vehicle and crossing roads that may have significantly been undermined from fast flowing water. Some universities are located next to rivers, which may present other dangers - eg: canoing during a flood.
What preventative or corrective actions could address these factors?
  1. Ensuring all equipment, particularly doors are operational from both sides of the locked door (including deadlocks).
  2. Ensure mentors have a list of students that needs to be checked off when boarding the bus at the university and at the end of the event to ensure ALL students are accounted for.
  3. Ensure mentor have easily accessible contact numbers if any assistance / advice is required.
  4. Be alert to student delays / absences when setting them a task and follow up if student does not reappear.
  5. Provide students with a "Survival Guide" at orientation noting some local "danger" issues - whether that be driving into the outback without water, flash flooding issues, or sharks and dumper waves at the coast. Also provide Internet or poster information if a crisis situation is imminent - eg: Cyclone Larry - How to prepare for a cyclone / bush fire etc.
Have you ever encountered an international student going missing?

Author: Eileen Hjertum - PIER Online Diploma student

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