11:19 AM

Volunteers Needed to be Public Safety Liaisons

Are you looking for a way to get involved while working at the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD)?

Then, consider volunteering to be a Public Safety Liaison (PSL) for the Office of Emergency Management.

Launched in 2016, the program is currently recruiting for additional UHD employees to help the police, fire and emergency management authorities when an emergency event occurs at the University. Presently, 33 employee volunteers serve as PSLs and the Office of Emergency Management is looking to recruit about 50 more representatives by the start of the fall semester, according to Carol Manousos, UHD director of emergency management.

The program was developed shortly after a 2016 fire incident. At that time there was a minor fire on the 10th floor of the One Main Building, and the incident underscored the need for PSLs.

“At that time, we realized were didn’t have fire wardens to help evacuate the building,"Manousos said. "It was very chaotic.”

The PSL program was developed by Brian Lovelady, a former UHD Emergency Management and Fire Safety specialist. After a fire drill, Lovelady asked colleagues if they would be willing to stand in the hallway with a checklist and help him out. The PSL program was born.

Interested volunteers shouldn’t worry if they don’t have the background or experience. According to Lt. Fred Varela of the UHD Police Department, all PSL volunteers will receive initial and ongoing training,

“It always goes well when we get these guys together,” said Varela, “The PSLs love it. They are so happy to participate because they have support from their managers.”

One PSL who has been with the program since its launch is UHD Criminal Justice alum Adrian Mallard, a paraprofessional in the W.I. Dykes Library. Mallard said he loves being able to not only help during an emergency event, but also gain hands-on experience from volunteering.

“Being a PSL can prepare you for scenarios outside the University,” Mallard said. “You can even learn how to create a fire evacuation plan for your home.”

Mallard also enjoys building relationships and learning more about his colleagues from other departments.

PSL volunteers meet on a regular basis for training that includes, fire evacuation, civil disorder, hazmat situations and hostile intruders. Eventually, the program will entail different levels of PSLs, noted Manousos.

On August 1, a PSL appreciation luncheon will be held for the current volunteers. Interested volunteers are invited, from 12:30 to 1 p.m. on the South Deck ACAD area, to sign up and meet current PSLs.

Employees Interested in becoming a PSL volunteer should contact Manousos at extension 8425 or Lt. Varela at extension 8651.