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Let’s meet … The Faculty’s Emergency Response Officers

Monday 7 November was Emergency Response Officers Day in the Netherlands. A day to pay special attention to the hard work of all Emergency Response Officers and to demonstrate how important their work is to an organisation. At the Faculty, we interviewed some of our own colleagues about their role as emergency response officers. You can read their stories below.

johan sjoerdsma
Johan Sjoerdsma

‘Oh, how nice, on Emergency Response Officer Day, all response officers at the KOG and Sterrenwacht are treated to a dinner by Leiden Law School’, Johan reads out loud when I enter his office on the ground floor.

You're the Emergency Response Coordinator at Leiden Law School. How long have you been doing this and what is it about?
I started out as a regular emergency response officer but since my appointment as Service Manager, I've also taken on the role of coordinator. It's part of my job description. I mostly organise training sessions, like walkie-talkie training, or the evac chair or combination training sessions and evacuations.

What are the most important rules for an emergency response officer?

1. You never attend a calamity on your own.

2. Personal safety first, so you are never to put yourself in danger and all emergency response equipment should work properly.

3. When in doubt, always call 112.

What do you have to do to become an emergency response officer?
You start by taking the emergency response course every response officer must follow. After that, you participate in approximately six training sessions each year, such as:

  • reanimation and bandages
  • fire distinguishing
  • a workshop/training session on theory with an instructor: Fire or First Aid

What types of calamities occur most often?
It's not too bad, actually. It varies from fainting students, cuts with knives in the restaurant, someone who has fallen off their bike, or perhaps a contractor using a drill close to a fire alarm.

How does your emergency response knowledge benefit you?
It becomes natural. Wherever I am, I always check for emergency exits. When she was small, my daughter choked on a sausage. I instantly knew what to do and after the correct treatment, the piece of sausage came flying out of her throat.

Jessie Pool

I've been working as an Assistant Professor Corporate and Insolvency Law for the Institute of Private Law since June 2022. Prior to that, I was working at the Faculty as a PhD fellow. My research and teaching take place at the intersection between corporate and insolvency law and I focus mainly on questions regarding balancing of interests and decision making. I'm currently working, for instance, on researching the question of whether there should be room, and if so, how much, for societal interests in insolvency procedures, both nationally as well as internationally, such as bankruptcy and legal debt restructuring for natural persons. I've been an emergency response officer since 2020.

Why did you become an emergency response officer?
Apart from a personal desire to receive more training in how to act in emergency situations, I also enjoy working with colleagues I would not normally speak to during my work as assistant professor.

What are the advantages of being an emergency response officer? You're able to keep your knowledge of, for instance, first aid up to date. You get to know colleagues from different departments, and you get to know the building.

Esther Uiterweerd

When I started working at Leiden Law School in 2002, I also became a response officer. I combine this with my work as Programme Coordinator of the advanced master International Children’s Rights. Together with my colleague Sheena Bruce, I'm also responsible for the quality control, process development, recruitment, and certification of the nine advanced master programmes.

What do you have to do?
Apart from the training sessions and obligatory annual workshop, fire extinguishing or first aid, there are one or two evacuation drills held at the KOG each year. I'm also standby if a response officer is needed for first aid or if the fire alarm goes off. It has happened that I needed to give first aid to a colleague and take them to see a doctor. I've also assisted students on numerous occasions after reports of fainting, epilepsy, hyperventilation, etc.

What are the advantages of being an emergency response officer?
It's very handy to know the building well, we have a good team of response officers who work together really well. I also like having some knowledge about fire safety and reanimation. You can also use it in public places or in your personal life. My brother had a heart attack a few years back which turned out well because his wife was a response officer and was able to reanimate him. I myself once provided first aid at the train station in Leiden after an accident with a bike.

Alicia Slooff

I work as Programme Manager at the Leiden Leadership Centre at the Institute of Public Administration and as Relations Manager at the Leiden Leadership Programme of the Honours Academy. After I joined the Leiden Leadership Programme, about a year ago, I was asked to become a response officer. I was able to follow the course soon afterwards and have been a response officer for about six months now.

What are the advantages of being an emergency response officer?
You learn a lot during the online modules and training sessions. From putting on a band aid, to reanimation, or what type of fire extinguisher to use for what type of fire. You can also use that knowledge outside of work. For instance, I checked to see if all the smoke alarms were in the right place in my house and the type of fire extinguisher in my kitchen. You also get to know people from other departments that you would not run into otherwise.

What would you like to tell your colleagues at the Faculty?
Of course, being an emergency response officer comes with responsibilities. But you're not alone. You're in a team and can always call for help from other response officers. In the event of a serious incident, you can always contact the emergency services. If you want to become an emergency response officer, make sure you sign up with a close colleague. It's nice to have someone to practise with and I really enjoyed taking the courses together.

Yvonne Snelder

I'm Health, Safety and Environment Coordinator at the UFB. Since October 2017, I've been Health, Safety and Environment Coordinator as well as Prevention Officer at Leiden Law School. I've been an emergency response officer for decades.

Why did you become an emergency response officer? I became an emergency response officer after an incident at one of my former employers. I turned out to be able to handle things adequately and keep a cool head during what was a rather bloody situation at the time. Something you have to know how to deal with is ‘personal safety first’. I've been in situations outside of work where I had to decide to limit my actions because otherwise my own safety would have been in jeopardy, as well as that of bystanders who think they know better.  Above all I'd like to encourage my colleagues to join! You never know when it might come in handy.



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