Emergency Evacuation Procedures And Policies

University divisions and departments should take time to familiarize themselves with the information found in the University of San Francisco Emergency Operations Plan. Members of the university community should familiarize themselves with the USF emergency procedures and other disaster preparedness resources available on the Public Safety website.

Public Safety conducts tests its emergency plans and capabilities on a regular basis. These tests include, but are not limited to, drills, tabletop exercises, functional exercises, and full-scale exercises. These tests are designed and conducted in order to evaluate the emergency plans and capabilities of the university. Analysis from these tests may be used to modify the Emergency Operations Plan, as needed.

General information about the emergency response and evacuation procedures for USF is published each year as part of the university’s efforts to meet compliance with the Clery Act, and this information is available on the USF Public Safety website.

Emergency Response and Evacuation Testing Procedures

Evacuation drills are coordinated by Public Safety for all residence halls each semester. All academic and administrative buildings on the Hilltop Campus participate in evacuation drills annually. Emergency response and evacuation procedures are tested twice a year. Students, faculty, and staff learn the locations of the emergency exits in buildings and are provided guidance on evacuation by the building’s Building Marshal. Each drill is accompanied by the proper documentation, which includes a description of the drill, the date, the time, and whether the drill was announced or unannounced. These drills not only educate building occupants on evacuation procedures, but they also allow for the university to test the operation of the fire alarm system in each building.

Emergency Medical Response Procedures

Hilltop Campus

Students, faculty, staff, and guests should report any emergency medical situations to Public Safety immediately at x2911 or, from a non-university phone system, at (415) 422-2911. Public Safety will send officers to the scene who receive American Red Cross First Aid, CPR, and AED training every two years.

General Evacuation Procedures

Before an emergency, determine the nearest exit to your location, the safest route to follow, and alternate exits. Building evacuation routes are posted in campus buildings. Leave the immediate area, but remain available to emergency personnel. If time permits during an evacuation, secure your workplace and take personal items such as keys, purse, medication, and glasses. In case of fire or other dangerous conditions, evacuate immediately leaving personal items behind.

Evacuation of a Building

  1. Walk, do not run.
  2. Do not use elevators.
  3. Seek out people with special needs and provide assistance.
  4. Gather outside at your designated building assembly area, where your supervisor will take roll and account for all personnel.
  5. If you cannot return to your building, wait for instructions from Public Safety, your building manager, or other individual in charge.

Evacuation for Persons with Disabilities

The most important factor in emergency safety for people with disabilities is advanced planning. Each on-campus residence hall and other administrative buildings on the Hilltop Campus are equipped with evacuation stair chairs and stretchers. Student Disability Services (SDS) may assist in planning specific evacuation strategies. For this or for detailed information on Evacuation Procedures for Students with Disabilities, students should contact SDS at (415) 422-2613 or Student Housing at (415) 422-6824. We encourage all students with disabilities to carry cell phones with them at all times, in case of an emergency.

Mobility Impairment

  1. Do not use elevators when a building fire alarm is sounding, unless authorized to do so by police or fire personnel.
  2. If you or the person you are with is unable to evacuate, ask someone to inform the emergency personnel who and where you are, and that you or the person with you is unable to evacuate due to a disability.
  3. If possible, call Public Safety at (415) 422-2911 to inform them that you or the person with you has mobility limitations and is in a building with the fire alarm going off. Give them your name, telephone number, and location.
  4. If smoke is detected and you are unable to get to an emergency exit landing safely, move to a room with a window and close the door. Get to the window and open it. Gain the attention of someone below (e.g., wave arms or a colorful piece of fabric).

Blindness or Visual Impairment

  1. USF encourages visually impaired students to practice escape routes ahead of time in case they are alone during an emergency evacuation. The university recommends that students with vision impairments learn where the nearest telephone and alarm boxes are in order to call for help, how to describe their exact location in the building, and how to best let others know where they are in the event of an emergency. It is important to be comfortable with the options for self-protection, including procedures to follow if a fire is between you and all escape routes.
  2. If you are with a person with a visual impairment when a building fire alarm sounds, offer to lead the way out of the building and to safety by offering your elbow.
  3. Give verbal instructions about the safest route or direction using compass directions, estimated distances, and specific directional terms.
  4. When you reach safety, orient the person and ask if any further assistance is needed.

Deafness or Hearing Impairment

  1. Many campus buildings are equipped with visual signal lights in the event of a fire alarm. If someone is unaware that the alarm is sounding, get the person’s attention by using eye contact, and if necessary, touch. Clearly state the problem. Gestures and pointing may be helpful, but be prepared to write a brief statement if the person does not read lips.
  2. Offer visual instructions to advise of the safest route or direction by pointing toward exits or evacuation maps.

Evacuation From Hilltop Campus

In the event of an immediate, life-threatening emergency during which campus must be evacuated, the Department of Public Safety or Emergency Operations Center Personnel, in collaboration with San Francisco emergency services, will coordinate the evacuation route with civil authorities. Once determined, emergency personnel will disseminate information about the evacuation location and route. Campus and community communication systems will be used to provide information about this type of evacuation. Food, water, first aid, shelter, and information will be available at evacuation sites.

Evacuation From Student Housing

Evacuation procedures are posted on the interior of every residence hall room door. They are also posted on the Public Safety website at myusf.usfca.edu/public-safety-transportation/disaster-preparedness/emergency-operations-plan. Residents may also refer to the Fogcutter Student Handbook at www.usfca.edu/fogcutter.


If an incident occurs on campus and it is determined that the area outside of buildings poses a threat to health and/or safety, the determination may be made to call for a “shelter-in-place.” This is done when it is safer to remain inside because leaving the building may expose you to danger. A notification to shelter-in-place will come from the Department of Public Safety using the university’s emergency notification system.

Basic Shelter-in-Place Guidance

If you are inside when an incident occurs, stay where you are. If you are outdoors, proceed to the closest campus building. Once inside, it is important to move to a location suitable for sheltering. Locations should be an interior room, above ground level, and should be without windows, if possible. All vents to ventilation systems should be closed if you are able to do so. The university will send out a notification once the shelter-in-place has been lifted.


If conditions outside become more dangerous, additional actions need to be taken to prevent the threat from entering your space. Defending in place is different from sheltering in place.  Defending in place includes your actions to protect yourself.

Put on breathing protection such as a mask or cover mouth and nose with a cloth.

If indoors, close windows and move to the highest, most interior room of a house or building. If outdoors, move laterally and upwind away from any smoke or aerosol cloud.

Seek shelter in a building or covered structure. If in a vehicle, pull over and turn off the engine, air conditioner, heater and vents, and roll up the windows.

  1. Turn off all electrical appliances, fans, air conditioners, furnaces, etc.
  2. Close and lock all windows, vents, doors, and other openings.
  3. Seal room windows and doors with duct or masking tape.
  4. Seal door thresholds with wet towels or clothing.
  5. Sit adjacent to an inner wall and away from outer walls and windows. Do not smoke, light candles, or use any sources of open flame.
  6. Call Public Safety at 415-422-2911. For non-Hilltop campus locations, dial 911. Communicate your location with first responders.