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 Student Death, Serious Injury, or Illness 

 

SPOTLIGHT

Purpose
To provide guidelines for an effective response and/or course of action on the part of the university in the event of a death, serious injury, or illness to a student.

Objective

For information to be channeled to the appropriate administrator(s) in a timely manner in order that the University may be prepared for media inquiries and responsive to the needs of the family and other students affected by the death, serious injury, or illness.

Procedure
1. The Vice President for Student Life will be notified by any University representative who becomes aware of the death, serious injury or illness of a student.
2. The Vice President for Student Life will:
    • Inform the University President, the Provost and Vice President for Academic
       Affairs, and the Executive Director of Public Relations. The Provost will 
       attempt to resolve issues such as class attendance, withdrawal, refunds and
       other similar matters if appropriate.
    • Assemble a crisis management team to assist in handling the situation.
    • Attempt to provide appropriate notification of the situation to the family
      (note: the county coroner must conduct the death notification).
3. The Vice President for Student Life will attempt to coordinate follow-up activities such as:
    • Identifying possible available sources for survivors to contact (e.g. medical,
       psychological, legal, or family support).
    • Securing personal belongings of involved students(s), when appropriate.
    • Assistance to students planning campus memorial services, scholarships etc.
    • Other university responses, as appropriate.
4. The Executive Director of Public Relations is responsible for coordination of official University statements in the event of a student death, serious injury, or illness.

Guidelines
These guidelines are designed to assist the most senior administrator involved in the process of handling a student death or emergency.
    • Most, if not all, contacts regarding a student death, injury, or illness begin
       with either the University Police or University Student Health Services.
    • Be sure both the University Police and the Student Health Services are
       aware of the incident immediately. The may be reached at the following:
Slippery Rock University Police

Campus phone:  ext. 3333  
Public phone:  724-738-3333


Slippery Rock University Student Health Services

Campus phone ext. 2052    
Public phone 724-738-2052

    • As soon as possible access the University database report number R005 for
       all relevant information about the student victim.
1. Obtain the necessary information including:
    A. Students name.
    B. Social Security number if possible.
    C. Type and extent of injury/illness.
    D. If death occurs, be sure to obtain approximate time.
    E. Name of hospital where victim is taken.
    F. Phone numbers of emergency room where victim is taken.
    G. Assess if the injuries are life threatening.
    H. Obtain the student’s address.
    I. Obtain emergency contact information. 
2. Be sure of a positive identification
    A. Check and double check name, address, emergency contact information,
         social security number.
    B. Be especially careful with common names such as Jane Smith, etc.
3. Contact Parents/Guardian/Spouse.
    A. Provide parents with all known facts – specifics
    B. Nature/extent of injury/illness
    C. Name of hospital victim was taken to and how they were transported
    D. Phone number of emergency room in hospital
    E. Phone number of reporting agency (police, student health services)
    F. Time of injury/transportation to hospital
    G. Give your name and phone number at home and at work
    H. NOTE: If student is alive start by stating:
        1. Your son/daughter is alive but has been injured.
        2. Your son/daughter is not in a life threatening situation but has been 
            transported to the hospital due to…

REMEMBER Receiving this information is shocking. People do not retain much of what you say. Be clear and ask them to write down the facts and your phone number and name.  

4. If the student(s) has died, it requires the county medical examiner to notify the parents/guardian. Be sure to discover who has/will make the notification and when it will occur – death notification is difficult.
Once you become aware that the police/medical examiner/hospital have notified the family, a Division of Student Life staff member should also contact the family.
    A. Express your sympathy.
    B. Provide any information that family member’s request.
    C. Offer SRU services for anything we can provide.
    D. Inform the family you will call back in a few days to discuss the personal 
        belongings of the student.
5. Inform the University President as soon as possible, as well as:
    A. Student Health Services.
    B. Student Counseling Center
    C. Executive Director of Public Relations.
    D. Student Life Directors via e-mail the next business day.
6. Identify a crisis management team if needed. Consider the following:
    A. Vice President for Student Life.
    B. Assistant Vice Presidents for Student Services and Student Development–
        Be sure to contact both individuals.
    C. Executive Director of Public Relations – who will function as the
        spokesperson.
    D. Director of Residence Life.
    E. Coordinator of Student Development.
    F. Others as the needs arise.
7. If the student victim is a residence hall student notify Director of Residence Life.
    A. Be sure the roommate is informed in person, in time, with compassion, in
        plain language and be sure two professionals partner to make the
        notification.
    B. Be sure floor section is informed.
    C. If athletic team member, member of band, or any other close knit group –
        fraternity, sorority, etc. be sure they are informed – in person, in time, etc.
8. Monitor situation and student condition through SRU Student Health Services staff. They should be the only contact with the hospital.
9. If death occurs notify:
    A. Academic Affairs to send letter to faculty.
    B. Academic Records – Stop all mail to student victim.
    C. Computer Center – Stop all mail to the student victim.
    D. Clergy from the appropriate religious affiliation (such as the Newman
        Center, etc.)
    E. Counseling Center professionals.
    F. Offer services of Counseling Center, Clergy to athletic team members,
        roommates, floor, section, band members, fraternity or sorority members,
        etc., - Meet with these groups personally to discuss what has happened
        and to process the situation.
10. Consider assisting students in planning a memorial on campus. Include Counseling Center professionals and Newman Catholic Center staff in the planning process.
11. Be sure to follow-up with a phone call to the family a few days after the incident.
    A. Offer to make arrangements for them to come to campus when they are
         ready.
    B. Offer to pack the belongings and ship them to the family home if that is
        preferred.
    C. Offer SRU services to them and any information they may need.
    D. When the family comes to campus, meet them at a given location, stay
         with them, provide boxes for packing, etc.
    E. If the student resided off-campus provide for similar services at the off-
        campus location.

NOTE:
ALWAYS GO THE EXTRA MILE IN THESE CIRCUMSTANCES!