Students, faculty and staff learned last month about what to do in emergency situations.
University officials gave a presentation in October about the procedures.
“Overall, what we wanted to do was have a basic understanding of what we want you to do based on certain scenarios,” said Lee Brown, university risk manager.
Brown said officials have not determined if this will take place annually, but he said there is a concerted effort to communicate the information each year.
“What if there was an active shooter on campus, and I was in the downstairs of Walker Center? You hear gunshots and get a Blue Alert. Where you are dictates what you do,” Brown said. “The first thing you need to do is get away from gunshots if you hear them and hide. Barricade the doors, prevent anyone from accessing you.”
The Emergency Resource Guide tells students to determine the most reasonable way to protect their own lives. That may be to hide or to evacuate.
“Have an escape route and plan in mind,” it reads. “Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow you.”
Brown said students should put any phones on silent and be as quiet as possible, making sure that a phone does not create a beacon for a shooter to go toward.
Brown said, in the event that a fire alarm goes off after a Blue Alert has been issued, no one should leave where they are unless they see or smell smoke.
“This is a way shooters try to increase the harm they do. Stay barricaded,” he said.
Department of Homeland Security research reveals that average active shooter incidents at schools last about 12 minutes, according to policemag.com. Brown said the university police department’s response time is less than three minutes.
“The university has roundtables and exercises for this situation, so we are familiar with the issues and able to respond to this situation,” Brown said.
The first officers to get to the scene won’t stop to help injured persons, according to the resource guide. Rescue teams will follow initial officers.
Officials will send amplifying information as it relates to emergency situations, so multiple alerts might be stacked on one another as time passes.
“We may issue a lockdown order, and then we may issue a Blue Alert, and then another alert that says it’s an active shooter situation near Sarkey’s or lockdown situation, avoid Walker, etc.,” Brown said. “The intent is to give you an idea on where the threat is in relation to you. It better helps you to respond.”
Brown said, if a student is walking down the hall and receives a Blue Alert, the student should run into a classroom. If a student is outside and knows the situation is on the other end of campus, getting in their car and fleeing campus might be the better option.
Some students were on their way to class when they received a Blue Alert about a lockdown last year, according to Student Publications archives. When they arrived at their school building, they were locked out and did not know where to go.
“The biggest issue, and one that there is really no way for us to plan against, is what happens if you’re outside and this occurs. If you’re outside and you hear gunshots, the first step for you should be to run to a building and seek shelter,” Brown said. “But if you’re still outside, and we issue a lockdown order, the intent is for everybody inside to lock their buildings down.”
Brown said he understands that this might result in students being locked out, but there is a limit to what officials can do to prevent it.
“It hurts my soul to have to say that you may be locked out of a building. The reason is because we have people inside that building that we’re trying to keep safe,” Brown said.
Each building has an assigned building coordinator who will help direct those inside to where they need to be during an emergency. They act as the go-to point between police, facilities and the building that they’re in. If it’s safe to do so, they will lock their buildings down.
“They’re going to try to get as many people inside as possible, but they’re not too worried about locking every single door.”
A building coordinator knows the flow of their building and will know who is usually inside and why, Brown said.
“They have an understanding of what class schedules look like and what professors may or may not be in the building at that time,” Brown said.
In other emergencies, like bomb threats, the building coordinator has different responsibilities.
During past emergencies, students have been more than helpful, Brown said.
“You all know how to respond to that situation and help faculty respond appropriately in a lockdown and shelter situation,” Brown said. “Use that intuition, do what you’ve been trained to do so far in your academic career, and I’m sure you’ll be okay at the end of the day.”