Emergency management

The goals of the college's comprehensive Emergency Management Program are to:

  • Protect human life and prevent/minimize personal injury
  • Protect the environment
  • Prevent/minimize damage to campus facilities and physical assets
  • Ensure business continuity
  • Restore normal college operations

The college, like any other business, is not immune from disaster. Emergency situations can occur suddenly with little or no warning, creating situations in which the college’s normal business operations of academic learning and service may become strained, even overwhelmed.

As a result of these operational challenges, the college has developed this emergency plan to improve its state of preparedness and ensure that timely response measures are enacted to control and terminate an emergency. Once an emergency is dealt with, the emergency plan then seeks to resume the college’s normal business operations in a safe, expedient manner.

Students and staff should never try to handle a dangerous or unpredictable situation on their own. Report an emergency by calling 519-748-5220, ext. 5555 from any college phone / Microsoft Teams phone, or through the Conestoga Mobile Safety App. This is a dedicated emergency phone line, monitored 24 hours a day.

College staff, students and faculty are encouraged not to make comments to the media during an emergency. All media inquiries should be referred to Corporate Communications.

Emergency information

Reporting emergencies

Emergency phone numbers

Police, Fire, Ambulance: Dial 9 (for outside line) then dial 9-1-1  

Campus Safety and Security: 519-748-5220, ext. 5555      

All emergency phones are linked directly to Safety and Security. Your call will be answered immediately by someone who will be able to monitor you on a security camera.      

It is important to stay calm when making an emergency call as Safety and Security will ask you a series of questions:  

  1. Your name
  2. Nature of emergency
  3. A phone number or extension where you can be reached

DO NOT hang up the phone until Safety and Security has all pertinent information.  

When calling 911 from a college extension, it is essential that Safety and Security be notified of all emergency situations so they can respond and direct emergency vehicles to the correct location.      

Fire emergency

Upon discovery of fire

Your safety is the prime consideration.  

Sound a fire alarm at a pull station if the alarm has not been activated. Assist anyone in immediate danger to safety without undue risk to yourself.          

If the fire is spreading rapidly, leave the area immediately and close any door behind you.      

Persons with mobility impairments should proceed to the nearest Emergency Evacuation Zone (EEZ), inform Safety and Security of your presence by using the yellow Emergency phone at each location.  

Do not use elevators  

Upon exiting the building, move at least 15 metres (50 feet) away from the building for your safety and to allow access for emergency vehicles. Listen for for the "All Clear" announcement before re-entering the building.  

If you cannot leave your area or have to find an area of refuge because of fire or heavy smoke, remain where you are and:          

  • Close the door but leave it unlocked for entry by firefighters or rescue workers.
  • If possible, dial 911 and tell the Fire Services where you are (including campus address and room number) and your phone number.
  • Seal any cracks where smoke can enter.
  • Keep low to the floor if smoke enters the room.
  • If possible, open a window for air. Signal firefighters by waving something visible. Close window if smoke comes in from window.
  • Wait to be rescued. Remain calm. DO NOT panic.
  • Listen for instructions or information given by the Fire Services.
Weather emergencies

Severe weather

In the event of a severe weather event (tornado, earthquake, hurricane, ice storm, etc.) take the following action:        

  • Seek shelter in the best location to help minimize exposure
  • Remain calm and avoid panic
  • Areas of safety - rooms and corridors in the innermost part of the building.
  • Areas to avoid - stay clear of windows and heavy objects that could fall or shatter.
  • Close all doors, including main corridors, making sure they latch.
  • Crouch under the nearest sturdy, well-supported object and cover your head and neck.
  • Be alert for fire.

Inclement weather

Road conditions are continually monitored. When conditions are so extreme that the college deems it necessary to suspend normal operations, the school will close.     

Where possible, a decision will be made by 6:15 a.m. for daytime classes and by 4:00 p.m. for evening classes. All information will be posted on the Conestoga College website and a notification will be sent to anyone with the Mobile Safety app.     

Seismic event

In the event of a seismic event such as an earthquake, take the following actions:     

  • Seek shelter in the best location to help minimize your exposure.
  • If indoors, seek refuge under a desk or table. Stay away from glass windows and shelving units.
  • If outdoors, quickly move away from buildings, utility poles and other structures. Never touch a downed power line.
  • If you are in a vehicle, stop at the safest place and remain in the vehicle.
  • After the initial event, evaluate the situation and if emergency help is required, call 9-1-1 and Safety and Security at ext. 5555.
  • Report any structure/facilities damage to Safety and Security at ext. 5555.
  • Assist people with disabilities. See evacuation procedures below for more information.
Evacuation procedures for people with disabilities

In all emergencies, after an evacuation has been ordered:      

  • Evacuate people with disabilities if possible. If not possible, assist them to an area of safe refuge such as an Emergency Evacuation Zone (EEZ), a stairwell landing or other designated area and let them know help is on route.
  • Using the emergency phone located at the EEZ, report your location and the number of people requiring assistance.
  • Do not use elevators unless authorized to do so by police or fire personnel.
  • Check on people with special needs during an evacuation. Come up with a ‘buddy system’ where people with disabilities arrange for co-workers/classmates to alert and assist them in an emergency.

General tips on helping someone with a disability

Vision disability:

  • Always ask first if you can be of any assistance.
  • For people who are deaf-blind, use your finger to draw an “X” on their back to let them know you are there to help during an emergency.
  • To communicate with a deaf-blind person, try tracing letters with your finger on the palm of their hand.
  • To guide the person, offer them your arm instead of taking theirs and walk at his or her pace, keeping half a step ahead.
  • If the person has a service dog, ask where you should walk to avoid distracting the animal.
  • Provide advance warning of upcoming stairs, curbs, major obstacles or changes in direction.
  • Watch for overhangs or protrusions the person could walk into.

Hearing disability:

  • Get the person’s attention via a visual cue or a gentle touch on the arm before speaking to him or her.
  • Face the person and make eye contact when speaking to them, as they may rely on speech reading.
  • Communicate in close proximity.
  • Speak clearly and naturally.
  • Use gestures to help explain the meaning of what you are trying to communicate to the person.
  • Write a message if there is time and keep a pencil and paper handy.

Mobility limitations:

  • Mobility limitations may make it difficult for a person to use stairs or to move quickly over long distances. These can include reliance on mobility devices such as a wheelchair, scooter, walker, crutches or a walking cane. In addition, people with heart conditions or various respiratory difficulties can experience limited mobility.

Mobility impairment:

  • It may be necessary to help clear the exit route of debris, if possible, so that the person with a disability can move to a safer area.
  • If a person with mobility impairment cannot exit, he or she should move to a safer area, such as an Emergency Evacuation Zone, an enclosed stairwell, or an office with a shut door a good distance from the hazard.

What you should and should not do:

  • Ask first if the person needs or wants your help.
  • Allow the person to identify how best you can assist him or her.
  • Do not touch the person, his or her service animal and/or assistive device/equipment without permission.
  • Follow instructions posted on special needs equipment and/or assistive device during an emergency.
  • Avoid attempts to lift, support or assist in moving someone unless you are familiar with safe techniques.
  • Never administer any food or liquids to an unconscious or unresponsive person.
  • Be aware that some people who have disabilities may request that you use latex free gloves to reduce spread of viral infection.
  • Ask the person if areas of his or her body have reduced sensation. If so, you may need to check those areas for injury.
  • Do not assume the person cannot see you, or that he or she needs your help.
  • Never grab or touch a person with vision loss.
  • Do not touch, make eye contact or distract the person’s service dog as this can seriously endanger the owner.
  • Do not shout at a person with vision loss. Speak clearly and provide specific and precise directions.
  • Avoid the term “over there”. Instead, describe locating positions such as, “to your right/left/straight ahead/behind you”, or by relaying clock face positions.
  • Avoid approaching the person from behind.
  • Refrain from shouting or speaking unnaturally slowly.
Medical or psychological emergency

Medical emergency

A medical problem can range from a serious life-threatening situation (e.g. heart attack, head injury, significant loss of blood, seizure) to a minor cut, scrape, or someone not feeling well.  

In all cases, Safety and Security should be contacted for assistance.      

For urgent situations, where the victim cannot go to the security office, or is not conscious:  

  1. You must notify Safety and Security by calling 519-748-5220, ext. 5555, or by using an emergency phone.
  2. While waiting for the arrival of Safety and Security, keep the crowd back from the area around the patient and make sure there is a clear approach route.
  3. Only provide first aid if you are trained.

Psychological emergency

A psychological emergency exists when an individual is threatening harm to themselves or others, or is out of touch with reality due to severe drug reactions or a psychotic break. A psychotic break may be manifested by hallucinations or uncontrollable behaviour.  

If a psychological crisis occurs:  

  • Never try to handle a situation that you feel is dangerous on your own.
  • Notify Safety and Security and clearly state that you need help. You will be asked a series of questions. Do not hang up the phone until Safety and Security has collected all pertinent information.
  • If the person is a serious threat, dial 9 (for outside line) then dial 9-1-1 and ensure Safety and Security is notified at ext. 5555 so they can direct Emergency Services.
Utility system failure

Power outage

  • Remain calm. Campus buildings are equipped with emergency lighting to help people evacuate the building safely.
  • If you can do so safely, move to an area of natural light.
  • Building occupants should not stay in a dark area of the campus. All occupants should stay or gather in a common area such as a classroom or cafeteria where there is emergency lighting and wait for further instructions.
  • The power failure may be localized within the college or an off-campus malfunction. This will be determined by Facilities Management.
  • Wait for the official college decision to resume or cancel operations and follow all directions given by Safety and Security or college management.

Water outage

In the event of a water outage, plumbing failure or flood:  

  • Stop using all electrical equipment and water.
  • Notify Safety and Security at ext. 5555 and if necessary, vacate the area.
  • Facilities Management will investigate the cause and identify how long it will take for clean-up or to restore utilities.
  • Wait for the official college decision to resume or cancel operations and follow all directions given by Safety and Security or college management.

Gas leak

  • Evacuate the area and notify Safety and Security at ext. 5555
  • DO NOT switch lights on or use any electrical equipment. An electrical spark has the potential to trigger an explosion.
  • Upon notification of a gas leak, ensure all cooking surfaces, stoves, fume hoods, dishwashers, and fans are shut down and evacuate.
  • Health and Safety/Facilities Management will investigate and determine hazard level.
  • Wait for the official college decision to resume or cancel operations and follow all directions given by Safety and Security or college management.

Ventilation issues

  • If smoke or other odours come from the ventilation system, immediately notify Safety and Security at ext. 5555.
  • Health and Safety and Facilities Management will investigate and determine the cause and assess the hazard level.
  • Wait for the official college decision to evacuate, resume or cancel operations and follow all directions given by Safety and Security or college management.

Elevator failure

In the event of an elevator malfunction, notify Safety and Security at ext. 5555. The elevator vendor will be contacted to service the elevator.      

If you become trapped in an elevator:      

  • Remain calm.
  • Use the elevator emergency phone/emergency call button to call for help.
  • Safety and Security will come to the location to ensure no medical help is required and will remain near the elevator until help arrives.
Hazardous materials incident

Chemical hazard

A hazardous material incident may be a spill or a release of chemicals, radioactive materials or biological materials inside a building or into the environment.       

Chemical hazards can be a solid, liquid, vapour, gas, dust, fume or mist. They can be inhaled, ingested or absorbed into the body.       

If a spill cannot be safely contained:       

  • Evacuate the area immediately and notify Safety and Security at ext. 5555.

If spill is outdoors:       

  • Notify Safety and Security at ext. 5555 immediately.
  • If you have trained in spill containment, dilute with suitable material, use spill socks and/or sand to prevent the chemical from contaminating ground water and sewer systems.

A minor spill of hazardous material is to be cleaned up by the department responsible for the material.       

Major spill:       

  • Call Safety and Security at ext. 5555 and evacuate the area immediately and account for individuals in the area.
  • Follow all directions given by Safety and Security or college management and Emergency Services.
  • Emergency responders will evaluate the situation. Wait for the "All Clear" announcement before returning to the area.


In the event of an explosion (caused by a chemical, equipment, traffic or a downed aircraft) on college property, take the following action:       

  • Immediately take cover under tables and desks for protection against glass and debris.
  • After the effects of the explosion and/or fire have subsided, from a safe location notify Safety and Security by calling ext. 5555.
  • If it is safe to do so, evacuate the area/building - do not use elevators.
  • Once outside, move to a clear area that is at least 200 meters away from the affected area.
  • Follow all directions given by Safety and Security, college management and Emergency Services.

Safety Data Sheets (SDS)

  • All Safety Data Sheets (SDS) are available for Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)-controlled products on our premises.
  • All employees and students who have access to an Intranet-enabled computer now have a direct link to important Health & Safety information.
  • WHMIS regulations require that all employers in Canada provide up-to-date information in the form of a SDS on all hazardous or controlled products used in our workplace. These sheets include critical information on procedures for handling a particular substance, as well as possible health effects and first aid.

Safety Data Sheets - Quick Search  

Civil disturbances and demonstrations

Most campus demonstrations are peaceful and people who are not involved should attempt to carry on with business as usual. Should a disturbance occur, call 9-1-1.  

If a disturbance seems to threaten the occupants of the building, call 9-1-1 immediately and take the following actions:  

  1. Alert all persons in the area of the situation.
  2. Lock all doors and windows.
  3. Close blinds to prevent flying glass.
  4. Move building occupants to an interior or windowless room, if possible.
  5. If necessary, your department may decide to cease work operations.
  6. If it becomes necessary to evacuate, follow directions from police.

A lockdown may only be authorized by the Incident Manager (Director of Safety and Security) or their designate (Security, Safety and Parking Manager).      

Shelter in place

A shelter in place response is initiated when there is an environmental threat or hazard near a campus. This means there are noxious or harmful airborne particles in the air around the campus and it is safer for people to stay inside than to be exposed to the particles outside.        

  • Remain indoors.
  • Close doors and windows.
  • Cancel or move outside activities indoors.

Normal operations are to continue inside the building, however, all ventilation fans, heating and air conditioning system are turned off to prevent contaminated outside air from entering the building.         

This procedure is to continue until the external threat is resolved and Emergency Services gives the “All Clear” announcement.

Hold and secure

A hold and secure response is initiated when there is a criminal threat near a campus. This means it is safer for people to be inside the building than outside because police are looking for someone threatening in the area.  

In this situation the procedures are:  

  • To restrict movement from in and out of the campus.
  • For people near the building to go inside and for the doors to be locked and monitored.
  • To avoid movement near windows and doors.
  • To continue this procedure until the threat is resolved and Emergency Services gives the “All Clear” announcement.

Violent threat

Active attacker response:  

  • The violent and threat procedure is only initiated when there is an imminent threat to the life and safety of our campus community.
  • This means your life is in danger by a person using a weapon on campus.
  • In this situation, you should assess the danger and either hide and conceal yourself or evacuate the building.

The evacuation and barricade procedure is outlined below:


Shooting/Hostage situation

If you hear gunfire on campus we recommend the following:  

  1. RUN and GET OUT , choose a safe exit if safe, and move far away from the building.
  2. Hide in a secure room or space. Turn off the lights, lock and barricade the door and seek cover.
  3. Notify Safety and Security at ext. 5555 immediately.
  4. Assist people with disabilities exiting the area.
  5. Notify others in the area to exit the building immediately.
  6. Do not attract the shooter's attention.

Active attacker

If someone appears to be armed or has begun actively attacking (i.e. shooting or attacking someone with a weapon), take one of the following actions, depending on the circumstances:  


  • If safe, exit the building immediately and notify anyone you encounter to exit the building immediately.
  • If you have information about the attacker or an injured person, call 9-1-1 and be ready to provide as much information as possible.
  • If safe, call Campus Safety and Security at ext. 5555.

If it is not safe to exit the building, follow the barricade procedure:  


  • Go to the nearest room or office.
  • Close the door and lock it if possible or barricade the door with tables and chairs.
  • Turn off lights and, if possible, cover the door window and side panels.
  • Silence communication devices (cell phones).
  • Stay out of sight and keep quiet, as if no one is in the room.
  • DO NOT answer the door.
  • If you have information about the attacker or an injured person, call 9-1-1 and be ready to provide as much information possible.
  • Listen for announcements and instructions and wait until emergency personnel arrive to escort you out of the building.

If the fire alarm sounds, assess the situation and respond accordingly:  

  • If you see or smell signs of smoke or fire, evacuate.
  • If there are no signs of smoke or fire, stay in the barricade.

What to do if taken hostage

  • Be patient. Time is on your side.
  • Avoid drastic action. The initial 45 minutes are the most dangerous as the captor is emotionally unbalanced.
  • Follow instructions. Be alert and don't speak unless spoken to and then only when necessary.
  • Don't talk down to the captor who may be in an agitated state. Avoid appearing hostile.
  • Maintain eye contact with the captor at all times, if possible, but do not stare.
  • Attempt to establish a rapport with the captor while avoiding speculation and arguments


It is college policy that no one is allowed to have a weapon while on campus, or at any events sponsored by the college.  

A weapon is defined as any firearm (loaded or unloaded), a knife or any device designed as a weapon capable of producing death or bodily harm.  

In the event a weapon is discovered in the possession of any individual:  

  • Call Safety and Security at ext. 5555.
  • Do no attempt to investigate the matter.
  • Follow directions from Safety and Security and or police.

If the person with the weapon is not in the immediate area:  

  • If possible, lock and or barricade the room doors and keep other individuals in the room.
  • Keep students in classrooms and away from windows and doors.
  • Follow directions from Safety and Security and or police.
  • DO NOT open the door unless instructed to do so by police or Safety and Security.

If the person with the weapon demands anything, follow instructions as best you can:  

  • Do not make sudden moves.
  • Do not argue with the person.
  • Be careful and take your time when dealing with the individual.
  • Attempt to keep others as calm as possible.
  • Talk calmly to the person with the weapon.
  • Learn as much as you can about the person.
  • Be observant. Mentally record a detailed description of the individual.
  • Follow directions from Safety and Security and police.