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Lab Safety Programs, Procedures, & Guides

Lab Safety Guide - Chapter 9 - Emergency Procedures

The following gives information on emergency procedures related to laboratory work. Adapted from the NMSU Lab Safety Guide (modified - dls).  Also see Emergency Quick Flip Chart


Call 911in an Emergency for Police, Fire, or Medical attention

New Mexico State University has an "Enhanced 911 System." This means that all you have to do in an emergency is dial 911. This will put you in direct contact with a dispatcher who will send the appropriate help.

When you call 911, please provide as much of the following information as you can:

    • 1. Is this an Emergency?

    • 2. Exact Location of Emergency

    • 3. Type of Emergency:

      • a. Police

      • b. Fire

      • c. Medical

      • d. Chemical, Biohazard or Radioactive Incident

    • 4. Brief Description of Emergency
    • 5. Your name and phone number (optional but helpful for response to incidents)

    This information will help to ensure necessary help is sent promptly.


Many people worry about calling 911 because they do not know if their situation is an emergency. An emergency exists any time there is a fire, someone needs immediate medical attention, a crime is in progress or if a chemical, biohazard or radiological spill threatens safety and health.

If you are in doubt, go ahead and call 911.

Not every call to a police or fire department is an emergency. Any non-emergency calls should be placed to the regular telephone numbers in order to keep the 911 lines available for those needing them.

The non-emergency phone numbers at NMSU are:

Police Department 646-3311
Fire Department 646-2519
Campus Health Center 646-1512
Other Medical 646-3311
Environmental Health and Safety 646-3327
Additional number are provided in NMSU Employee Safety Handbook

If you are not sure which office to call, contact the NMSU Police Department, and they will assist you in contacting the appropriate office.


The following emergency procedures are recommended in the event an injury occurs from a fire, explosion, or other laboratory accident. These procedures are intended to limit injuries and minimize damage if an accident should occur.

In case of any emergency, laboratory personnel should remain calm and do only what is necessary to protect life (without jeopardizing their own safety).

    • 1. Summon help immediately by calling 911.

    • 2. Render assistance to persons involved. Do not move an injured person unless he or she is in danger of further harm.

    • 3. Warn personnel in adjacent areas of any potential hazards to their safety.

    • 4. Keep any injured person at body temperature. Remember if the injured person is lying down keep the underside at body temperature also. If feasible, designate one person to remain with the injured person. The injured person should be within sight, sound, or physical contact of that person at all times.

    • 5. If clothing is on fire, knock the person to the floor and roll him or her around to smother the flames or, if a safety shower is immediately available, douse the person with water.

    • 6. If chemicals have been spilled on the body, flood the exposed area for 15 minutes with sufficient running water from the safety shower and immediately remove any contaminated clothing.

    • 7. If a chemical has entered the eye, immediately wash the eyeball and the inner surface of the eyelid with plenty of water for 15 min. An eyewash fountain should be used if available. Forcibly hold the eye open to wash thoroughly behind the eyelids.

The emergency room, Memorial Medical Center, is the nearest full-care medical facility. In case of an emergency, call 911. An ambulance will be dispatched to render assistance and transport the victim. A person suffering from a medical emergency should be transported by an ambulance and not by a co-worker or friend. The Student Health Center (646-1612) and Employee Health Service (646-6600) will provide urgent medical care for minor injuries. Call first to confirm hours of operation.


In case of fire and/or explosions activate the fire alarm system, and then call 911 from a safe location.


For most small-scale laboratory spills, the chemical spill procedures described in Chapter 2 will be adequate. Where large-scale spills may be possible, emergency procedures should be prepared for containing spilled chemicals with minimal damage. A spill-control policy should include consideration of the following points:

    • 1. Prevention - storage, operating procedures, monitoring, inspection, and personnel training;
    • 2. Containment - engineering controls on storage facilities and equipment;
    • 3. Cleanup - countermeasures including personal protective equipment and training of designated personnel to help reduce the impact of a chemical spill; and
    • 4. Reporting - provisions for reporting spills to the NMSU Environmental Health and Safety (to identify controllable hazards).

If a chemical or radiological spill threatens the safety and health of students, faculty or staff call 911 to report an emergency involving hazardous materials. (See Spill Management, Chapter 2).

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