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Safety reminder: What to do if there is a shooting on campus

Emory Report | Oct. 6, 2015

The shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon is a reminder of the importance of knowing the steps to take if a similar event happens in our community, according to the university's Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response (CEPAR).

"By releasing this information, we hope that our community will be better prepared, and that chances of safety and survival can be improved," says Sam Shartar, senior administrator for CEPAR.

Before an event occurs, be sure your personal information is up to date in the Emory Emergency Notification program, a multi-modal system designed to immediately alert all students, staff, faculty and visitors of an emergency affecting the Emory community. Notifications can include text messages, email, outdoor sirens, social media and alerts posted to the Emory homepage.

Active shooter events are unpredictable, motives are different, and warning signs may vary, but CEPAR recommends three things you can do to increase chances of safety and survival: Run, hide, fight.

  • Run: If a safe path is available, always try and escape or evacuate even if others insist on staying. Don't linger to gather belongings.  Encourage others to leave with you, but don't let their indecision slow down your own escape. Once out of the line of fire, try to prevent others from unknowingly walking into the danger zone and call 911 or Emory Police at 404-727-6111.
  • Hide: If you can't escape, try to hide outside the shooter's view. If you can't find a safe room or closet, hide behind large objects that offer protection. Seek a hiding place that doesn't restrict your options to move. Try to remain quiet and calm.  When hiding, turn out lights, lock doors and silence the ringer and vibration mode on cell phones. If a door doesn't lock, attempt to block it with furniture or other large objects. 
  • Fight: As a last resort, if your life is at risk, working together or alone, act with aggression. Use improvised weapons — for example, a fire extinguisher or chair.

For further guidance on what to do during an active shooter event, CEPAR references a video called "Run, Hide, Fight" produced by the City of Houston's Mayor's Office of Public Safety and the Office of Homeland Security. Before watching, note that the video depicts a graphic dramatization of a workplace shooting that could upset some viewers.

Report concerning behavior

Emory encourages anyone in the university community to seek help for themselves or others if there are any concerns about safety. Valuable resources are available from Campus Life and Human Resources, for students and university employees.

Listening to your gut and reporting a person or situation that is of concern to you is critical to preventing violence. It is natural to rationalize or deny that a concern or threat may exist. Remember that you may only be seeing one part of a larger picture, and coming forward may be critical for bringing awareness to a potential threat.

Emory's Threat Assessment Team analyzes information it receives on perceived threats to the safety and security of university students, staff, faculty and visitors. Reporting safety concerns increases the team’s awareness of relevant issues on campus.

Where to report concerns:

  • Emergencies: Call 911 or Emory Police (404-727-6111) immediately
  • Concerns about students: Campus Life, 404-727-4364
  • Concerns about faculty or staff members: Human Resources, 404-727-7611

Warning signs can manifest themselves in many forms, including one-on-one settings, group interactions, public behavior, letters, emails, blogs, websites, social networking sites, photos, phone calls or text messages, among others.

Here are some examples of behavior that might prompt you to make a call:

  • Explicit statements about harming someone
  • Attempts to harm or kill self
  • Expressing suicidal thoughts
  • Social isolation
  • Changes in behavior
  • Changes in academic performance
  • Unexplained absenteeism
  • Increase in alcohol or drug use
  • Anxiety or uncertainty about family/relationships/situations
  • Lack of energy or chronic fatigue
  • Change in appearance/decline in hygiene
  • Sending disturbing messages (such as texts, emails or letters) to students/staff/faculty
  • Paranoia
  • Loss of job/income/relationships
  • Disruptive behavior/irritability/abrasive towards others
  • Coursework content that is alarming
  • Depression or nervousness
  • Identifying with other persons who engaged in past violence toward others
  • Making statements that support the use of violence to resolve issues