Tom Holland got the call at 12:18 p.m. An emergency blue light button was pressed by the Old Chapel. No response on the other end, it was either a false alarm or someone was hurt.
Can’t take any chances.
He broke out into a run and got there as fast as he could.
“Is everything okay? Is anyone hurt?” Holland said as he made his way to the light.
Little did he know, it was a test.
Once a blue light is pressed, how long does it take for a response?
One minute, 23 seconds, and a concerned officer to go with it.
There are 21 functioning blue lights on the Castleton University campus, and the two that are not working are marked as such. All are tested at least once a month, and half of them had their software replaced at the beginning of August.
Once the button on the post is pressed, the light starts flashing and a call is immediately sent to the Public Safety office, where the radio sends a live call to the light and the person can have a conversation about what is happening at the location.
That’s when the officers are alerted and action is taken.
Director of Public Safety Keith Molinari was not surprised Holland responded so quickly.
“I had no doubt that my guys would get there in a short amount of time. These tests are all subjective though, a good way to test it would be to do a bunch over time and see the time differences there. But the longest it would take would be five minutes,” Molinari said with confidence.
Not all students are as confident.
“I’m honestly surprised it was so fast. I wouldn’t press a blue light button if I didn’t feel safe, I just don’t think it will always be like that. He must have been very close to the location because I’m confident that it would take like at least 10 minutes normally,” said junior Aminah Orogi.
Molinari has hopes for the future, and updating the technology, stating that he knows the blue lights are not the newest thing, and there are better ways to keep the campus safe.
Rave and 911Cellular are apps on phones that can serve the same purpose as blue lights. These apps have IPS, or an indoor positioning system. This serves as a more precise GPS, so it would be possible to pinpoint the room on campus the alert is coming from.
Many campuses use these apps already, and Molinari feels it is not out of reach for Castleton, but is only merely being talked about right now.
Some students are still skeptical.
“I’m honestly surprised they had time to respond to the call with all the tickets they write,” said LeeAnn Senecal.
Public Safety has taken measures in the last few years to make the campus safer, including a radio frequency with the Castleton PD. Their radios act as phones, so when there is no one at the dispatch desk, the call is forwarded directly to an officer.
Overall, most students feel safe on campus.
“I’ve never felt unsafe on campus,” said Kristi Lachar.
Molinari feels the same way.
“Since I’ve been here, there has only been one blue light emergency. It was during the summer and an elderly person fell on the sidewalk and pressed the button. No students have had an emergency, but we treat every call as if there is one,” Molinari said.