Public Safety Division, MERT holds its first health and safety fair since the start of the pandemic

DPS held its health and safety show on September 30, 2022. Credit: Avi Singh

About 200 members of the Penn community gathered to attend the Public Safety Division’s “An Ounce of Prevention” health and safety fair for the first time since the pandemic began.

The event was coordinated in partnership with Penn’s Emergency Medical Response Team and Finance Division to raise awareness of public safety resources available on campus. The three-hour program on September 30 included a live controlled combustion demonstration, a CPR demonstration and speeches by members of the DPS.

Tables were spread across the site location on the high-rise lot, along with campus groups such as the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, Penn Sustainability, Wellness at Penn and MERT. Penn Dining Rooms also participated in a chili cooking contest, where participants lined up to try the different preparations and voted for their favorite recipes.

At 11:30 a.m., Fire and Emergency Services safety specialist Matthew Poissant demonstrated the benefits of sprinkler systems, which are installed in every Penn dormitory and many other campus buildings with a burn hot.

In the model room of the life-size dormitory without sprinklers, the sofa and other furniture were completely destroyed by the time the first fire truck arrived on the scene, which usually takes five minutes. Conversely, in the model room equipped with sprinklers, the heat of the fire triggered the sprinkler system, which successfully extinguished the fire in 26 seconds.

Fire and Emergency Services Chief Eugene Janda told the audience that sprinklers are the most effective way to fight fires when they start, and it is crucial that they are integrated into future construction projects.

“We are proud to have sprinklers above the heads of everyone who sleeps on this campus,” Janda said. “We need a few more buildings that we are working on getting sprinklers for, and that should be coming in the near future.”

After the fire demonstration, MERT members demonstrated how to care for burns and taught the audience, including Penn’s mascot, the Quaker, how to properly perform CPR.

Vice President of Public Safety Kathleen Shields Anderson spoke to The Daily Pennsylvanian and offered advice for upperclassmen moving to off-campus residences.

“If you’re considering off-campus housing, ask if they have sprinklers, if there are working smoke detectors, and make sure they’re tested twice a year,” Anderson said. “Always put your safety above everything else. There is nothing more important than how you feel and that you stay safe.