Enhanced emergency preparedness and protocols measures

17 November 2023

Dear colleagues and students

The University of Cape Town (UCT) has embarked on a transformative journey to bolster its emergency and disaster management preparedness and protocol measures.

As part of this process, the Occupational Health, Safety and Environment (OHSE) division within UCT’s Properties and Services department has launched an online safety training video series. This initiative, together with the actions outlined below, will contribute significantly towards enhancing the UCT community’s safety and welfare.

The first training video highlights emergency preparedness and the procedures to follow during evacuations.

The purpose of this online training video series is to equip everyone within the UCT community with the knowledge and tools needed to ensure a safe and secure teaching, learning, research and working environment.

As part of UCT’s commitment to continuously improve our emergency management measures, and as a reminder ahead of the fire season in Cape Town, we would like to draw your attention to the important information below.

Communication channels and response teams

The Communication and Marketing Department (CMD) is an integral part of the Disaster Management Response team and will be the primary issuer of communication from the UCT Risk Operating Centre (ROC). CMD will issue short message service (SMS) notifications to all staff and students in case of an emergency and/or disaster. Staff and students are reminded to please ensure that their contact number on record with the university is kept up to date in order to receive the SMS notification. This SMS will be followed by notifications on all UCT social media platforms, the website and via email.

Additionally, each faculty and department is actively establishing their emergency response teams and dedicated communication channels to ensure swift and coordinated action. Guidelines on emergency procedures have been conveyed through the Central Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Committee (COHSAC) who meet regularly. These procedures will be disseminated via the COHSAC representatives to each faculty and department. COHSAC has helped to strengthen OHSE governance within the university.

The OHSE division has also increased training efforts through supporting emergency drills, and by performing ongoing emergency and disaster management desktop exercises with teams. Evacuation training will be communicated and monitored through the OHSE committee, with concerns and escalations shared at COHSAC meetings.

Collaboration and early warning

UCT maintains an active membership with the Cape Peninsula Fire Protection Association, participating in regular meetings to stay updated on potential disaster scenarios. An early warning detection and communication system is in place for wildfire alerts in collaboration with SANParks, the City of Cape Town’s Disaster Risk Management Centre, and our ROC. Our disaster management plans have been shared with the City’s Disaster Risk Management Centre, making them an essential stakeholder for immediate communication from the ROC during any disaster. High-risk buildings have been identified, and dedicated teams are responsible for safeguarding them.

Assembly areas and evacuation procedures

In the event of an emergency, specific assembly areas have been designated per building. In the event of a mass evacuation, the following locations have been identified for upper, middle and lower campuses:

  • upper campus: rugby field
  • middle campus: cricket oval
  • lower campus: soccer field opposite the Irma Stern Museum

These assembly points may change depending on the nature of the disaster. In the event that an alternative assembly point is to be used, this will be communicated through the channels outlined above. All other campuses have designated primary and secondary mass emergency evacuation assembly areas. Detailed instructions in the case of a mass evacuation will be provided by the ROC, in collaboration with security and emergency response personnel. Coordination of traffic on campus and in surrounding areas is handled collaboratively by Campus Traffic and City Traffic, with vehicle removal instructions issued based on the nature of the disaster and associated risks.

Information dissemination and training

Following the April 2021 fire, OHSE updated and distributed posters to each faculty and department, including emergency contact numbers. Please contact the COHSAC representative in your faculty or department for further information. If unsure, please contact ohse@uct.ac.za, who will redirect you to the representative.

Emergency medical response

A dedicated on-site paramedics team has been deployed to improve response times during medical emergencies. They are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

UCT remains committed to your safety and wellbeing and continues to work diligently to ensure we are prepared for any potential emergency or disaster. Your cooperation and participation in our preparedness efforts is appreciated.

Any feedback and concerns regarding any OHSE matter may be directed to ohse@uct.ac.za.

Together, we will ensure that UCT remains a safe and resilient institution.

Communication and Marketing Department

Read previous communications:

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Please view the republishing articles page for more information.