By Leigh Barber
According to Everytown for Gun Safety, there have been at least 90 school shootings in America since December 2012. School shootings are more common in the United States today than ever before, and New College police officers are trying to raise awareness of the actions that should be taken by students if there is a shooting incident on campus. The officers are trained for responding to an active shooter, but they also want to stress the importance of awareness and preparedness of the members of the community.
“Our police department has for many years conducted training for our officers on responding to an active shooting incident,” said Officer Kelley Fisher in an email interview. “We continue extensive on-going training for a response to these types of incidents.”
No matter what, if students witness any armed individual or campus at any time, they are encouraged to call 911. Only one person per room should call emergency services. The call may be routed to the local Sheriff’s Department, but the campus police will still be informed of the call and respond.
Getting out of the situation safely is crucial, so students should flee the building if they believe it is safe to do so. In order to avoid danger, make sure that the shooter is not between the student and the exit; students should not attempt to flee unless they are sure that they can escape safely. Once they are far away from the scene, calling the Police Department is imperative. While leaving the building, one should follow the guidance of the officers and keep their hands visible. Pulling the fire alarm is not advised, as it causes confusion and gives the shooter more opportunities for the shooter to cause harm.
If escaping is not an option, it is important for one to secure their immediate area or move to a safe place if possible. Next, students are advised to turn off all the lights, close the blinds and lock all windows and doors. Turn off radios and computer monitors and silence all cell phones. If possible, get everyone on the floor and out of the line of fire. During this time, it is important that everyone remains calm, quiet and out of site. Taking adequate protection by using concrete walls, thick desks or filing cabinets could help. In order to help responders locate injured persons, place signs on exterior windows. Until authority or a known voice gives an “all clear” instruction, stay in a secure location of the building. Unknown or unfamiliar voices may be false and designed to give false assurances.
Unfortunately, if a shooter enters a class or office there is no specific procedure that can be recommended for this situation. Always call 911 if possible, but students are encouraged to use common sense. If hiding or escape is not an option, remaining quiet is the next best thing. Attempting to negotiate with the shooter is discouraged, but trying to overcome them with force is a last resort that should only be initiated in the most extreme circumstances. Keep in mind that there may be more than one active shooter on the premises.
During a shooting incident, it is essential to know what to report if one is able to call the police department. One should tell the 911 operator their specific location, the number of people there and any injuries that may have occurred. When informing the responder of the assailant, it would be helpful to list their location, number of shooters, their race and gender, a description of their clothing, physical features, type of weapons and their name (if known).
The police who respond to the 911 call have a set procedure that they must follow when they arrive at the scene. Their objective is to immediately isolate and engage the shooter(s) and to stop the shooting as soon as possible. The first officers who arrive will not stop to aid injured persons, but rescue teams will follow the first officers into secured areas to treat and remove the injured people. Once they arrive, it is crucial to remain calm and do what the officers instruct; they have been trained for this type of emergency. Students should keep their hands visible to officers and should inform them if they know where the shooter is.
While it is a frightening topic to discuss, it is vital that students and community members know what to do in the case of an active shooter on campus. The police are trained and ready to handle this type of situation, but students should know what the procedure is in order to feel safer and informed in the event of a campus shooting.