Blue Pole and Emergency Call Box Outages Across Campus


Gracie Burgess

Code Blue Safety Poles and emergency call boxes around campus are currently out of order, pending an evaluation of every station.

Gracie Burgess, Staff Writer

The FGCU community has noticed Code Blue Safety Poles haven’t been fully functioning. Occasionally, some had out of order signs while others were fully covered in black trash bags.

Students and staff received a Guardian Eagle alert on Feb. 23 2023.

“There is a campus-wide outage of blue poles and emergency call boxes. We are working to restore operation. In an emergency, dial 911, call UPD at 239-590-1900 or use the Guardian Eagle App,” read the alert.

This email came just one day after an incident occurred about a minor car accident on campus involving two students. The students pressed the nearest emergency call button; however, no emergency response came. The students eventually had to call UPD to receive on site help.

The mom of one of the students involved in the accident, Heather Bloss, is experiencing frustration with the outage of the blue poles and emergency call boxes. According to FGCU’s Safety website, there are over 75 poles and emergency call boxes located in parking areas, student housing (South Village and North Lake Village) and in the academic core area. 

“A single touch on the push button summons campus officers, allows dispatchers to hear what is going on, pinpoints of the exact location of the trouble, and triggers the bright blue police-type strobe light on top of the phone,” the website states.

According to an Eagle News article from fall 2021, FGCU has been aware that the blue poles and emergency call boxes have been malfunctioning. Now it is the spring semester of 2023 and the blue poles and emergency call boxes are still experiencing issues causing a lack of communication between students and FGCU’s UPD.

“While FGCU’s blue pole system was technologically advanced at the time of installation in a pre-smartphone era, the technology has been antiquated, resulting in infrastructure problems,” Coordinator of University Communications and Media Relations Pamela McCabe said.

McCabe said as a deeper dive into the issue was conducted in partnership with the vendor of the blue poles and emergency call boxes, it was found to be a campus wide outage. This campus wide outage triggered a second Guardian Eagle message sent out on Friday afternoon to FGCU students and staff urging them to avoid use of the emergency system until further notice.

“Knowing that the emergency system is ‘antiquated’ isn’t very comforting,” Bloss said. “I felt safe sending my daughter to FGCU, but after this experience, I am not sure.”

Although the blue poles and emergency call box systems were put into place, McCabe reiterated that those are not the only means of communication with UPD and emergency services on campus. Students, employees, and visitors are all encouraged to use the systems in an emergency, but also know of other means of reaching emergency services. On campus, the Guardian Eagle app is available to be able to directly reach UPD with the tap of a button. Other ways are by contacting UPD directly at 239-590-1900 or contacting 911.

“UPD works with the campus community to provide a safe and secure environment so our students can succeed academically, feel at home on campus and enjoy a well-rounded collegiate experience,” McCabe said. “To aid in these efforts, we encourage students, employees, and visitors to report anything suspicious they see or hear to UPD. This partnership is vital to providing a safe and secure environment on campus.”

Until further notice, the vendor of the system is evaluating the blue poles and emergency call Boxes to find a solution. McCabe assured the work is being done as quickly and efficiently as possible.

“The vendor is physically evaluating every blue pole and emergency call box on campus,” McCabe said. “Inactive poles and call boxes are being marked with a tag that clearly states the device is out of order.”

Code Blue Safety Poles and emergency call boxes around campus are currently out of order, pending an evaluation of every station. (Gracie Burgess)

The tag marking inoperable poles and call boxes states, “Temporarily out of order,” and directs users to call UPD or 911 for emergencies.

Students are worried about the implications this may bring to campus now that it has been announced. They are worried FGCU will become a target, as on-campus violence has occurred at other universities around the country even with safety measures in place.

“It doesn’t help that they sent out an announcement because then even the predators know that the system is down,” senior Jasmine said.

Emails and notices will be sent out to students and employees as this situation evolves. In the meantime, FGCU students are encouraged to download the Guardian Eagle app to aid in campus safety. More information on the app can be found on the UPD website.