According to the University of Texas Police at Houston’s (UT Police) Annual Security Report, blue light phones are emergency, direct-ring telephones strategically located throughout MD Anderson and UTHealth Houston campus buildings and in parking garages.
Users can easily identify blue light phones by its blue pedestal and they are clearly marked “Emergency”. When someone activates the device pressing the red alert button, an individual can speak directly to the UT Police Risk Operations Center (ROC). If necessary, the ROC will dispatch an officer or emergency team to respond.
On a sunny Friday morning, I accompanied UT Police’s electronic technicians on a blue light phone repair ride along to see how they maintain the emergency communications system.
Electronic Technician Jerardo “Jerry” Rivera says the department maintains and tests the blue light phones weekly.
“UT Police officers test the communications and alerts capability to ensure the device works properly,” said Rivera. If issues are identified, a technician is dispatched to correct the problem.
Rivera explained how the device works when activated.
Each device is marked at the top of the column with an identifier. He said there are blue lights at the top of the column that strobe when someone activates the device. When a device is activated, it sends the ROC this identifier and its precise location, either through the physical access control system, caller ID, or both.
Rivera reflected on a time when he had to use the blue light phones on campus.
He said he was on the South Campus when someone exiting the South Campus Research Building 1 started seizing.
“I ran to the nearest blue light phone and was able to contact the police and request emergency medical help for the person,” recalled Rivera.
Rivera said it was because of the blue light phone he was able to quickly get medical emergency help for the person experiencing a seizure.
“Blue light phones are appropriate to use in all emergencies,” said Rivera. “Whether it’s a criminal or medical emergency, the phones are there for you to use whenever you need police assistance.”
Blue Light Phones are located throughout the MD Anderson and UTHealth Houston campus, including MD Anderson Houston-area locations, and in parking garages. You may see them situated along sidewalks as blue towers, or attached to walls in parking garages and at building entry points. Similar devices can be found throughout the TMC and on many hospital campuses, each designed to provide a critical link to emergency services for those locations.