SAFE Team back on track after inspection

SAFE Team, the student-escort service, restored its operations Wednesday after a pest-infestation scare.

On Tuesday night, SAFE Team shut down operations, but reopened the following night following an exterminator’s review.

Student Government adviser Gary Manka said an exterminator from Orkin pest control company said there was no infestation in the office.

“The exterminator came in (Wednesday morning) and said there is no major infestation, so we are pest-free now and we can run normal,” he said.

The claim came after some SAFE Team employees said they had bug bites, potentially from their office, which is located in the Marshall Student Center (MSC).

Nelson Ling, director of SAFE Team, said he received a few bites himself a week ago but was not sure of their origin.

“I haven’t gotten bitten for a week now, but I had no idea that it might have been affiliated with the office until this weekend,” he said. “I can’t even verify what type of bug it was because the Orkin people didn’t really find anything.”

Ling said the bites were an “itchy-type” and that the other employees who were bitten haven’t gotten sick.

He was first notified Sunday about the complaints from employees and was advised by Manka to shut down the escort.

“One of our main concerns was (the employees’) safety,” Ling said.

Joe Synovec, MSC director, said a few of his staff members looked in the office Tuesday morning for any signs of pests and didn’t find any.

“We turned over everything in the room and couldn’t find any evidence of any bug infestation at all – no live bugs, no dead bugs, no nothing,” he said. “We called in the Orkin pest control people because we figured we’d get it sprayed. If there’s something there, we’d make sure it doesn’t happen again. They came down and they inspected and, based on the concrete floor, they said the concrete can’t host any fleas or bedbugs of any type. They went to inspect the area and said, ‘There’s no reason to spray this. You don’t have a problem here.'”

Synovec said Orkin exterminators speculated that the bites could have resulted from employees going outside to smoke cigarettes, traveling to and from their cars or from their homes.

“They said ‘it could’ve been a hundred different things … but you don’t got it in this building,'” he said.

University Police (UP) spokeswoman Meg Ross said there were no crimes reported between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m the night SAFE Team was out of operation.

Ross said, if SAFE Team ever stops operations again, students should travel in groups or call UP.

“Certainly don’t walk alone,” she said. “If you have a friend that can go with you, you should always walk with more than one person … after dark. If there’s a concern, you can also call us and we could possibly send an Allied Barton security guard. Certainly, if there’s anything suspicious, you can call us.”

Ling said the decision to cease operation was a precautionary step.

“Of course, safety for the student body is a huge concern, but it’s also important for us to make sure that our employees are safe as well, so they’re able to provide the service,” he said. “For example, if we did have a bug infestation, we wouldn’t want to spread it to the student body or to dorms. I’m really happy that nothing happened last night and, of course, they always have UP for emergencies.”