Press That Button!

It stands six feet tall, painted yellow, shines blue when you push it and could very well save your life.

The blue light phones are found on all of FAU’s campuses (except for the Harbor Branch in Fort Pierce) and there are 63 phones alone on the Boca campus. These phones are strategically placed around campus to keep you in direct contact with FAU Police should there be a crisis.

These bright yellow safety devices are now being maintained by two university departments every week to check that every phone is in perfect working condition.

“The Police Department and Physical Plant are making sure that every blue light emergency pole is working properly to ensure safety for those who may need them,” said Tom Donaudy, vice president for facilities and university architect.

The blue lights are an emergency system that students can use when they need immediate help from the police department. For instance, say you are in a parking lot and feel like you’re being followed. Then you see a blue light (there is usually at least one per parking lot) and you press the red button. Instantly, just like if you were to call 911, you are connected with FAU Police and a dispatcher will send a police officer to your location for help.

The Physical Plant is testing each phone weekly to make sure they are connecting with a dispatcher, making sure the blue siren is properly shining, and fixing any vandalized or lightning-struck phones.

The plant is also stocking parts for these phones because in the past, if blue lights were not working, they would have to order the part, wait for it, and then replace it. By doing all of this the Physical Plant is ensuring everyone’s safety.

The blue light phones on each campus are all a little different, depending on the model, but all work just the same. Some phones have just a big red button that connects you to police, but some have a keypad or a black button. The blue phones with keypads are typically found near entrances to dorms, which can be used to call a friend who you may be visiting so they can come downstairs and let you in. The black buttons are found on some phones on the Port St. Lucie campus, and are used for information and are not for emergencies. But don’t worry, these phones have both black and red buttons.

To be in contact with a dispatcher by using the blue light phones takes the same amount of time to dial 911, which should be less than five seconds.

But since everyone has a cell phone nowadays, you may wonder why FAU would maintain and ensure that each phone is working properly.

“The time it takes to get your cell phone out of your purse or pocket, then to dial 911, you would then have to explain where you are on FAU’s campus and then they might transfer you to our police department,” said Keith Totten, deputy chief of FAU Police. “If you just pushed the red button on the closest blue phone, your location would be sent directly to the FAU dispatcher where they could immediately radio police units to come to you.”

Wanna see where the blue lights are on campus? Log on to upressonline for a complete map.