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Vol 40  No 9
January 31, 2008


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Incident response team coordinates efforts

BIRT on the ready
by David Sorensen

The university now has a team in place to assess and respond to incidents of potentially dangerous behaviour. The Behavioural Incident Response Team (BIRT) was designed to coordinate efforts when a student, staff or faculty member notices behaviour that is threatening, intimidating or violent.

And while the Katz report recommended just such a committee, David Head said the university was moving towards this kind of protocol for some time. Mr. Head is the director of the university’s Enterprise Risk Management Unit.

The Katz report did call for a more clearly defined process for behavioural incidents, a protocol for information sharing and coordination of response.

Mr. Head said the BIRT protocol is important because it sets out clearly the procedure that must be followed when a situation arises. The first point of contact is Campus Enforcement and Patrol. He said CEP is a logical first point of contact as it’s the only campus office open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“One of the key attributes of the BIRT protocol is centralized reporting,” he said. “Any incident of concern, no matter what it is, gets reported through CEP.

“It’s a 24/7 thing. So you can drop in or call CEP at 737-4100 or whatever you are most comfortable with. Once it is reported, CEP knows the protocol and depending on whom the source of concern is, and who the involved parties are, the protocol dictates a response co-ordinator.”

Mr. Head said if a student is involved, the response co-ordinator would be the dean of Student Affairs and Services. If it’s a faculty member, it’s the director of faculty relations; a staff person, the director of Human Resources.

While BIRT is a new policy, it still operates with existing university policies regarding behaviour such as the standard code of conduct, the sexual harassment policy and the various collective agreements.

“The protocol is a mechanism for information sharing, coordination and monitoring,” said Mr. Head.

Dean of Student Affairs Dr. Lilly Walker said the centralized reporting is a critical component of the new program.

“This really lays out clearly who to call in case of an incident,” she said. “It says ‘call CEP.’

“The system then should take care of itself.”

Dr. Walker said Student Affairs has used the protocol already in dealing with behavioural incidents involving students. “It has allowed us to be much more thoughtful about co-ordination and informing other people.

“Lot’s of times in an emergency you are quick to respond. What this does is pull all those people together to inform them of what’s happening and they are part of the decision making.”

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