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How and when to get help

The most important information you need in an emergency is the telephone number for the campus emergency services (university police, fire department, emergency medical services).

You can reach emergency services by dialing 617-627-6911 or x66911 from a campus phone. Use this phone number to stop a crime, report a fire, and to save a life. On the Boston health sciences and SMFA campuses, dial 9 1 1 to report a fire.

The first question you will be asked is, “What is the address or location of the emergency?” You will need to provide the location of the emergency, as well as relevant information about the emergency.

You can also alert campus emergency services by calling for help via the blue light telephones found around the campus inside grey, weatherproof boxes, and marked by blue lights. Or, you can press the blue panic buttons found inside of many buildings, including most residence halls and some administrative offices at Tufts University.

TuftsAlert (emergency alert system)

In the event of a significant emergency or dangerous situation involving an immediate threat to the health or safety of the Tufts community, the university will notify the community through any of a variety of methods, including TuftsAlert. Messages from TuftsAlert are sent to university e-mail accounts and can be sent by text message to mobile phones, and by telephone to any enrolled phone number. However, you must provide your contact information to be included in the system. Your contact information will only be used to contact you in case of an emergency.

Fire Safety

In the event of a fire, the most important thing to do is GET OUT.
Walk to the nearest exit; do not use the elevators.
If caught in smoke, drop to your knees, and crawl towards the nearest exit.
Hold your breath as much as possible, and breathe through a filter such as a shirt or towel.

Medical Emergencies

In all medical emergencies, first call the campus emergency services at x66911. Then, provide any assistance as detailed below.

Allergic reaction

A victim of an allergic reaction may experience swelling, breathing difficulty, an itching rash, shock and even death.


Do not restrain the victim during the seizure or place anything in his or her mouth. Move furniture away from the victim. After a seizure has ended, place the victim on his or her side.

Heart attack

Symptoms include chest discomfort, severe chest pain; discomfort in other areas of the upper body such as arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach; shortness of breath; cold sweat; nausea or vomiting; light headedness. Monitor the victim and perform CPR if the victim becomes unresponsive or is not breathing normally.


A stroke is a blood clot or bleeding in the brain. It is a serious medical emergency. Symptoms of a stroke are facial weakness, arm weakness, and speech problems.

Severe bleeding

Control bleeding by applying direct pressure on the wound with a gauze bandage or piece of cloth until the bleeding stops or emergency personnel arrive. Avoid contact with another person’s blood by using medical gloves.


If caused by heat, cool the burn in cold, running water. Do not use ice and do not break blisters. If caused by electricity, do not approach or touch the victim until the power has been turned off. If caused by chemicals, remove contaminated clothing. If exposed to an acid or an alkali, irrigate skin or eye with water.

Broken Bones

Do not attempt to move the victim. Apply a mixture of water and ice to the injured area, being sure to place a towel or cloth over the skin to protect it. Do not attempt to push bones or tissue back into the skin.

Hypothermia (low body temperature)

Begin warming the victim by moving them to a warm place. Remove wet clothing. Cover the victim with dry clothes and blankets.


Frostbite is damage to the skin caused by extreme cold or a long period of exposure. It usually affects hands, feet, nose, and ears. It is characterized by discoloration of the skin and may include numbness or intense pain. Do not attempt to re-warm the affected body part if you are close to medical care or if there is a chance that the body part may refreeze. Remove wet clothing, and cover the victim with dry clothes and blankets.

Heat emergency

Includes heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Most heat related emergencies can be prevented by drinking water regularly and staying indoors during the hottest parts of the day. Get the victim to a cool place. Loosen and remove clothing. Offer the victim an electrolyte-carbohydrate mixture (for example, juice, milk) if the victim is conscious and alert.

Chemical Spills

If you encounter a chemical spill, call campus emergency services at x66911. Do not attempt to clean up the area without assistance. Only specially trained individuals should clean up spills. Protect yourself and others by advising them to stay away from the spill until help arrives.

Natural Disasters

Severe thunderstorm or tornado – When you hear thunder or see lightning, go inside immediately. In case of a tornado, go to an enclosed, windowless area in the center of a building. Drop to the ground and cover your head until the storm passes. If you cannot get to an indoor location, move away from trees and power-lines, and seek the lowest possible ground, such as a ditch. Lie flat and cover your head.
Earthquakes – These are very rare in Massachusetts, but they can occur. If the ground starts shaking, drop to the floor immediately; take cover under a sturdy desk or table; and hold on to it until the shaking stops.

Shelter in Place

In some instances, it may be safer to “shelter in place” than to evacuate a building, particularly during violent criminal activity. If you are in the immediate vicinity of such activity, you should follow your instincts and make decisions that could save your life (see Active Shooter). If you receive an emergency message from the university instructing you to “shelter in place” and are not otherwise in immediate danger, you should stay in place, lock and barricade the doors in your present location, move away from any outside windows and doors, close the window shades and turn off lights.

For more information about emergency preparedness: