Supply cabinets lack maintenance, attention
Expired rations present concern
Published: Thursday, October 15, 2009
Updated: Thursday, October 15, 2009 05:10
As history indicates, the disaster supply cabinets, meant to ensure campus occupants with access to first aid materials, food and water for three days in the case of a major emergency, lack consistent maintenance.
The idea of having these emergency cabinets originated when a former professor's son began the project as part of an Eagle Scouts mission in the early 1990s, Safety Committee member Richard Akers said, but in recent years, the care of the cabinets has fallen short.
"It was in 2002-03 that it was put to light that things were outdated," Dr. Akers said. "Like everything else, it comes down to money."
Director of Business Services Mariles Magalong, who also serves as Safety Committee chairwoman, said the committee is responsible for checking emergency equipment, medical supplies and replacing expired food in the cabinets at least once a year.
The cabinets, housed throughout the campus in the Applied Arts and Gym Annex buildings, the Early Learning, Student Services and Automotive Technology centers, the Gymnasium and the proximities of Police Services, are generally the same, Custodial Services Manager Darlene Poe said.
The Advocate observed three cabinets during the week of Oct. 4-11 in the AA, Art, and GA buildings.
In addition to finding inconsistent distribution of supplies, such as the AA building cabinet having more supplies than the one housed in the GA building, it was clear that the cabinets had not been replenished in some time.
Labels showed expiration dates on peanut butter for February 2009, cases of canned juice for November 2008 and power bars for November 2006, among many others. Also, only a 24-pack case of water or less was found in each cabinet.
Poe said although they would like to purchase pricier foods with shelf lives that will last substantially longer than what are currently in the closets, it is necessary to live within their resources.
The college allocation for these safety supplies have been cut this fiscal year, down $250 from $2,500, Magalong said.
"Even before, the college didn't have a lot of money devoted toward those things," she said. "There was even a year when all we could afford was the actual cabinets. But each year, we do try to add more (supplies)."
Some non-perishables found in the cabinets included first aid kits, portable toilets, radios, extra batteries, blankets, water purifiers, basic medical supplies, flashlights, hygienic products, trash bags, caution, duct tape and many others.
"In terms of first aid, what we have would be enough until help arrives," Poe said. "If people are hurt, that is our priority."
These items, however, varied from location-to-location.
For instance, cots, a checklist of recommended inventory and inspection logs, though last dated Feb. 7, 2002, were only found in the Art Building. Akers said these things were put in place while he was the building monitor years ago.
One possible reason for the disparities is because these designated building monitor volunteers hold keys to these resources and can make individual maintenance decisions. Current Art Building monitor John Diestler said the department made it a habit to consume foods when the expiration dates were near and someone would simply pay a few dollars out of pocket to replace them.
Employment development services specialist John Christensen, who was in charge when the supply cabinet was housed in the H Building, said he also individually replaced items.
Building monitor Denine Colbert said there needs to be more communication between the monitors and the Safety Committee, because at this point, the lines of responsibility are hazy.
"The last time I attended a building monitor meeting was four years ago," Colbert said. "There's a lack of training that we should have once a year or twice a year as refreshers. We should meet regularly."
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