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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ensuring all equipment, particularly doors are operational from both sides of the locked door (including deadlocks).
- 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.
- Ensure mentor have easily accessible contact numbers if any assistance / advice is required.
- Be alert to student delays / absences when setting them a task and follow up if student does not reappear.
- 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.
Author: Eileen Hjertum - PIER Online Diploma student