The college’s board of trustees in the National Park assessed the health, safety and security of students on campus at its regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, as the newly formed commission presented a holistic approach to achieving the goal.
Kelly Embry, vice president of NPC administration, introduced the campus health, safety and security team, noting the priority of both physical and mental health on campus. She said that during the integrated budget process last year, which included the school’s strategic plan, they realized the need for a clearer focus on health, safety and security.
The campus operations department has been formed, with Brad Hopper taking on the role of associate vice president of campus operations and Jessica Ellis being the health and safety program manager.
Embry noted that NPC’s behavioral intervention specialist and Title IX coordinator, Susan Millard, will also play an important role and a special full-time nurse’s salary has been approved – which the college is currently actively recruiting.
“The health, safety and security of our students and staff are obviously a very serious issue,” NPC President John Hogan said at the meeting. “We remain committed to providing a safe environment for learning and living. This is essential to our mission of student success. We will work to continually improve the way we provide services to our students. ”
The risk management team “means we all play a role and clarify what those roles are to keep our faculty, staff and students safe,” he said.
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Hopper emphasized the proactive approach in preparing the college, noting the team’s desire to further improve health, safety and security measures.
“We have many policies and procedures, but we will strive to see each of them as a continuous, continuous process … They are good now, but we can always be better,” he said.
Garland County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremy Navra currently serves as the school’s head of school resources, and the college is also contracting with the Gardaworld Security Company to provide 24-hour campus security.
He said the team had already begun work, although they were not official until July 1, and noted that they had “branched out” to Garland County under Sheriff Jason Lawrence and Hot Springs Police Chief Chris Chapmond.
“We’ve had a relationship with them before and we’ve had training sessions with them before,” he said. “They helped us make assessments and just a few great guys to work with. And as (Embry) said, we’ll have a full-time nurse, if you know someone who wants to give up a floor, walk into the office and slow down. That would be a good opportunity for them. “
Ellis, who has a master’s degree in public health and recently graduated from the National Emergency Management Academy of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said she was reuniting the risk management working group to fully assess the entire campus for risk and vulnerabilities.
“Some of the specific things we have already identified include the need to set up crisis response teams on campus, as well as strengthening our current building master program,” she said. “And we also provide a variety of on-campus training for everyone.”
These include cardiopulmonary resuscitation training, first aid, automated external defibrillators, mental health first aid and naloxone use.
“Finally, we want to create messages to educate specific groups of students, faculty and staff on what to do in an emergency so that everyone feels prepared and then can move on to a plan, if not they remember, ”she said.
Millard, a licensed clinical social worker, said the mental health stigma has dropped significantly in the last 10 years since she was in college, and she feels good about the school’s existing mental health program.
“Initially, when I came to National Park College, we were concerned about school safety and we were particularly concerned about school shootings and mental health crises and things like that, and I just wanted to mention how mental health services have evolved over the past 10 years.” she said.
“It has evolved in the sense that the stigma of mental health services has been significantly reduced. One of the things I love about working at National Park College is that we don’t work in isolation. But it’s great that we can talk about mental health and depression and anxiety and not feel like we’re calling someone, you know, crazy or dangerous, or whatever.
Millard also spoke about the mental health crisis in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that it was a “real thing” and she was grateful for her internship last year.
Board Chairman Forrest Spicer said the steps the NPC is taking to prioritize health, safety and security on campus are an investment in the student experience and help improve the quality of life on campus and throughout the community.