USC named an International Safe Community
USC is the first academic institution in the world to be designated as an International Safe Community by the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre on Community Safety Promotion.
With this designation, USC joins a network of more than 200 communities around the world that have met the organization’s standards to promote safety and health initiatives aimed at ensuring that individuals are protected from harm in all aspects of their lives, whether they are at school or work or reside in the surrounding communities.
The designation process for USC began with the U.S. National Safety Council, an Affiliate Support Centre of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre, which invited USC to undergo the review process and become the first university community in the world to be designated.
“We commend the University of Southern California for achieving our designation. The honor reflects and recognizes communities that have undertaken a comprehensive approach to safety – from the workplace to personal health and development to disaster preparedness,” said Donna Stein-Harris, director of the National Safety Council’s Safe Communities America efforts.
Ron Waldie, director of capacity building and mission growth for Safe Communities Canada, which led the certification process, said: “The review team was very impressed with the institutional strength and depth of the USC Safe Communities Task Force, the quality and breadth of its programs and its demonstration of commitment to the health and safety of every member of its university community. We were excited to lead the review of this unique and very effective organization, which I fully believe deserves this designation.”
At USC, this initiative encompasses all campuses, students, faculty, staff, and, very importantly, neighboring communities. In February, the accredited review team of Stein-Harris and Barry King (Safe Communities Canada) visited USC and reviewed the university’s current safety efforts, including those in student and residential life, fire safety and emergency planning, public safety, wellness programs, risk management, laboratory safety, patient care and research operations, and health and counseling services.
Charles Lane, associate senior vice president for Career and Protective Services at USC, said: “We are very pleased to have achieved designation as an International Safe Community. It helps underscore the fact that safety in our community is a collective effort and responsibility. All of the small things that our students and colleagues do each day to follow safe practices, as well as our long-term planning activities, play a vital role in our ability to prepare for and address both potential large-scale disasters and individual security issues.”
USC has a wide range of safety planning activities under way at any one time, Lane said, and emergency preparedness includes the USC Department of Public Safety and the offices of student affairs, housing, transportation, emergency planning, risk management, environmental health and safety, and public relations, among other departments. The departments work in concert to provide safety, emergency preparation, communications and, as needed, emergency services for the University Park and Health Sciences campuses. The university is also a leader in the Great California Shake Out, an annual comprehensive earthquake preparedness drill.
Communities seeking the Safe Communities designation must meet six indicators established by the World Health Organization Collaborating Center on Community Safety Promotion and Safe Communities program:
• demonstrate leadership based on partnership and collaborations with all community sectors that are responsible for safety promotion in their community
• establish long-term, sustainable programs covering both genders and all ages, environments and situations, including the preparation of citizens for emergencies and disasters
• establish programs that target high-risk groups and environments, as well as programs that promote safety for vulnerable groups
• collect data on number and causes of injuries
• evaluate their programs, processes and the effects of change
• participate in national and international Safe Communities networks.
“USC recognizes that being designated as an International Safe Community does not mean that the job is complete,” Lane said. He added that USC will participate in national, regional and international Safe Communities initiatives, which will enable the university to assist other communities in their efforts and gain insight from other communities and attempting to better identify areas for improvement.
USC’s official designation ceremony will take place on Sept. 15 at 9 a.m. by Tommy Trojan. At that time, representatives from the World Health Organization, the National Safety Council and USC administration will commemorate the event, which will be followed by the annual University Park campus safety fair.