Calls for a uniform security plan in Quebec CEGEPs

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Calls for a uniform security plan in Quebec Cégeps

Three police interventions have taken place in as many cegeps for a week.

The three interventions that have taken place in as many CEGEPs over the past week have brought to the fore the issue of security plans in these educational establishments. On the side of the Federation of Collegial Education (FEC), we are calling for the intervention of Quebec to establish a plan to standardize the procedures to follow in the event of an emergency.

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Youri Blanchet, president of the FEC, believes that if CEGEPs do have such procedures, they are applied somewhat unevenly. He also believes that the level of preparedness of students and staff varies by institution.

“We would like there to be something more uniform in the preparation of both staff and students in the event of an event as sad as those we have seen over the past few days. »

— Youri Blanchet, President of the FEC

Mr. Blanchet considers that his point of view – and that of the FEC – is shared by other unions active in the college environment.

The FEC also believes that drills should be regularly conducted in CEGEPs to prepare for a fire or other emergency.

Youri Blanchet actually wants reactions to such a situation to become automatic.

According to him, carrying out repeated exercises would not increase the level of stress of students and staff, quite the contrary.

By dint of repetition, I would say that the anxiety decreases and that we are better prepared afterwards not to [fall into] a state of panic and do anything, he advises. /p>

This is what happened, he says, during the shooting near Cégep Montmorency, in Laval: Many students, following of the instruction asking to remain confined in class, came out anyway.

A “white code” was triggered Friday, mid-afternoon, at Collège Lionel-Groulx where a armed man was seen near the establishment.

At the Quebec Ministry of Higher Education, it is recalled that since the 2006 shooting at Dawson College, all Cégeps du Québec have the obligation to establish an emergency measures plan.

CEGEPs and universities are responsible for ensuring the safety of the people who attend them and are subject to the CNESST. I will make sure that we reiterate the importance of developing such a plan and that it is updated, if it has not already been done, quickly, said Minister Pascale Déry by email. /p>

But there seems to be a long way to go from the cut to the lips. As Stéphane Wall, a retired supervisor from the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM), who specializes in the judicious use of force, mentions, it can sometimes take many years between two revisions of the action plan. emergency, even between two exercises.

Over the years, unfortunately, we will often react after an incident, he admits.

“It's kind of the lot of human beings: sometimes we're maybe not proactive. We wait for something to happen and then after that we think we should update the procedures. »

— Stéphane Wall, former supervisor at the SPVM

This results in a lack of uniformity, continues Mr. Wall, who mentions that there are certain schools and some school boards where annual drills will be carried out, much like practice in the event of a fire.

And in other places, well, we'll do that every three years, every five years or when there is a particular incident, which will make [the officials] decide to ;perform a containment and deconfinement practice.

Mr. Wall also reminds that modifications can be made to the buildings of CEGEPs and other educational institutions. These changes could invalidate emergency measures adopted several years earlier.

Idemwhen the staff changes or when a new cohort of pupils or students appears: the knowledge of the previous occupants disappears when they leave the premises and everything has to be started over.

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Without regular drills for various types of situations, staff and students could suffer from confusion or make mistakes during a real emergency, believes the specialist.< /p>

This is precisely what happened at Cégep de Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu on November 11; Juliette Élie, a student, reported having long thought that the instruction to barricade herself in her classroom was an exercise.

Until, she said, the phones of those present in the classroom ring following the dispatch of the alert by the authorities.

The late morning announcement of an arrest by law enforcement revealed that the man wearing a bulletproof vest, that she had seen a little earlier, was maybe not just a guy after all.

It's a bit like. .. Yes, we know it happens, but there is no support, something in place in case [an emergency] happens, and we just say to ourselves that we're going to improvise something on the spot, said Ms. Élie in an interview after the fact.

The student, however, specifies that throughout the day, the teacher present in the classroom kept control of the situation and maintained calm.

After an arrest and the arrest of another person, on November 11 in the morning, the police eventually proceeded to the careful evacuation of the cégep, where several hundred students and staff members are confined for several hours.

If not all CEGEPs and other college establishments regularly carry out exercises to prepare for an emergency situation, this is the case for the Pensionnat du Saint-Nom-de-Marie and the x27;Vincent-d'Indy music school.

As Yves Petit, general manager of these two establishments, indicates, it has been around fifteen years that a procedure is in place in the event of a threat to a person.

We are really doing a containment exercise […]. When we do the exercise, we act as if we don't know what is happening. So we confine everyone, there is a message that is sent to [all], he explains in an interview.

We really do it to develop reflexes, so we want that as soon as a situation arises, we don't ask ourselves the question… Everyone barricades themselves.

With information from Marie Isabelle Rochon

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