San Franciscans are used to maintaining composure in the face of potential emergencies. In a city where after an earthquake most of us race to be the first to tweet about it rather than racing to the door, we like to play it cool.
In light of the recent shooting at Oikos University, many students are left wondering what they should do in a campus emergency. So what should we do if there is a gunman on campus? What about a downed aircraft? What about a gas leak? What about a flood or a fire?
If it took you more than a few seconds to know what you should do when faced with any of the above situations, you’re in trouble. If you’re still wondering what the official SF State emergency procedures are for any of those situations, you’re in an even worse position.
The range of emergencies that can occur on a college campus are varied, and each merits a different type of response. For example, it is probably a good idea to exit a building if it is on fire. But that same advice would be unwise if there was a gunman loose on campus.
In a recent email, President Robert A. Corrigan summarized resources for maintaining a safe and aware campus. He also shared how the university would communicate with students in an emergency situation. However, we need to join the resources we already have with an integrative contingency plan that deals with specific real life scenarios.
The truth is that in a stressful and potentially dangerous situation, we might not be able to wait around for a text message alert of stay tuned for an emergency broadcast. Conceivably, there might also be situations where administrators would be unable to use these tools to communicate.
Currently, SF State University Police do have a description of what to do in case of an active shooter on campus as well as how to shelter in place and what to do in a building evacuation. These are all a few clicks deep on the UPD website. It is imperative that we all be familiar with these procedures. These are also safety guidelines that are easy to print and distribute across campus.
If you are a teacher, consider printing them out and posting them in a visible place in your classroom.
If you are a department chair, consider forwarding them to students and faculty in an email. If you are a student, print up a copy and keep it in your backpack.
It’s been shown across campuses that prior preparedness and a well-implemented emergency plan can foil or lessen dangerous situations.
In 2009, a 20-year-old female student at the University of California Los Angeles was stabbed during class. She survived due to the quick actions of a professor who stopped the bleeding and and alerted campus police who were able to quickly detain the attacker. And even in truly tragic cases like the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting where there were deaths, first-person accounts show that the toll could have been higher if not for the quick actions of professors and students. For example, Virginia Tech professor Kevin Granata saved 20 students by sheltering them in place in a locked office. Though they survived without injury, he tragically lost his life when he went back outside to investigate.
Take the time this week to plan out what you would do in an emergency. You don’t know how soon this information might become vital.