Preparing for Public Safety’s Worst Case Scenario

By Elijah McGuire-Berk

Elm Staff Writer

Few things are more important for Public Safety than being prepared.  Director of Public Safety Jerry Roderick is embracing this philosophy by an emergency drill that mimics an active shooter on campus. In addition, more resources are being put into training Public Safety personnel and Resident Assistants on what to do in this type of emergency.

He pointed out that shootings occur

Officer Harding and Officer Davis of Public Safety.
Officer Harding and Officer Davis of Public Safety.

suddenly and are over quickly.  “If you look at active shooting incidents, most of them are completed within eight minutes, so you don’t have a long window of getting people in to deal with the situation,” he said.  In spite of the short timeframe, a lot of damage can still be done.  He also talked about common patterns of shooters. “Most shooters either go in looking to be killed or will kill themselves before the police take them,” he said.

In the event that there is an active shooter, students should “get out of that area where it’s occurring, which is called ‘flight,’ when you get out.”  If escape is impossible, “find a safe place to barricade yourself in.”  The third and last resort is to fight, but Roderick said that fighting was only to be done “if you had no other option.”

Further information can be found in a video titled “Active Shooter Training Video” under the Emergency Operations Group on the WC website. Courtesy of The University of Georgia’s Office of Security & Emergency Preparedness, the video gives more detail about actions to take, including ways that one could fight off an intruder if the need arose.

The video advises students, “Whether it’s a shooter on campus or a bombing on campus, have a plan, think about something to give yourself a running head start to survival.” It advises individuals to call the police if possible, but do not await orders from anyone. Act as quickly as possible. If fighting becomes necessary, possible weapons at a student’s disposal include binders, books, and chair legs.

According to the video, there is a higher chance of being killed by lightning than a school shooter, but  that doesn’t make it impossible.  Roderick said, “There’s always a chance of that and that can come about in many different ways.”  He said colleges are good locations for shooters to strike because they have a lot of people concentrated in a single area.  There is also the possibility of a gunman being chased onto campus and attempting to hide in one of the many buildings present.

The community surrounding the College is also important in stopping an active shooter. Many factors like how quickly the local police react or whether citizens of Chestertown report suspicious activity are vital in stopping a shooting from occurring.

The College is looking into the possibility of getting deadbolt doors in the future. These could be locked from the inside to allow people to barricade themselves from a shooter.  Public Safety has also considered the possibility of arming its officers, but Roderick said that there are other issues with that proposal, and he is much less certain about it.

More information about how to handle emergencies can be found the section for the Emergency Opperations Group on the WC website or by going to the Office of Public Safety located below Wicomico Hall.

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