Campus resources available for safety planning, support after Las Vegas shooting

Emory Report | Oct. 3, 2017

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The mass shooting in Las Vegas gives us cause to review resources that can best prepare us to react to this type of tragedy, according to Emory's Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response (CEPAR).  

"We hope that members of the Emory community never encounter an active shooter. But we also believe it important for all of us to take steps that will improve our individual preparedness, improve our chances of survival and foster a disaster resilient community," says Alexander Isakov, CEPAR executive director and professor of emergency medicine.  

CEPAR has posted a video that reviews key steps that individuals should take if they encounter an active shooter. The video  — which depicts a graphic dramatization of a workplace shooting that could disturb some viewers — emphasizes that survival may depend upon whether you are aware, prepared and have a plan. View here.

Run, hide, fight

The video emphasizes that taking a few simple steps can make a difference: 

  • 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.  
  • If you can't escape safely, find a place 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. 
  • As a last resort, if your life is at risk, working together or alone, act with aggression. Use improvised weapons — a fire extinguisher or chair for example — and fight
  • Be aware that law enforcement first responders are usually not there to assist the injured, but to stop the shooter; help for the injured is on the way. Once law enforcement arrives, remain calm and follow instructions. Keep your hands visible at all times and avoid pointing or yelling. 

Threat prevention

Making the decision to report a potential threat can be difficult. At the same time, we all have a shared responsibility to identify and report concerning behavior.

"What we see may be one piece of a much larger pattern of behavior," explains Sam Shartar, CEPAR senior administrator and a member of the Emory Threat Assessment Team. "By reporting what you know, you help inform decision-making. We’d much rather hear about concerns, evaluate them, and offer support services than not hear about an individual or situation until a crisis."

The Emory Threat Assessment Team receives, assesses and responds to information on perceived threats to the safety and security of university students, staff members, visitors and property. The team’s goal is to identify concerns in their early phases and to work collaboratively with all parties before problems escalate.

The team seeks to remind the campus community that it is always a good habit to trust your intuition, especially when dealing with a potentially threatening situation. 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.

How to contact the Emory Threat Assessment Team: 

  • Any emergency situation where a person may pose an immediate risk of harm to self or others should be reported immediately to law enforcement by calling 911 or dialing the Emory Police Department directly at 404-727-6111.
  • To report a concern about a student, please contact the Division of Campus Life (404-727-4364).
  • To report a concern about a faculty or staff member, please contact Human Resources (404-727-7611).
  • The Emory Threat Assessment Team can also be contacted directly by sending an email to threatassessment@emory.edu

Warning signs can manifest themselves in many forms: one-on-one settings, group interaction, public behavior, letters, emails, blogs, websites, social networking sites, photos, phone calls or text messages are just some examples. Here are some examples of behavior that might prompt you to make a report: 

  • Explicit statements about harming someone
  • Attempts to harm or kill self
  • Expressing suicidal thoughts
  • Changes in behavior
  • Change in appearance/decline hygiene
  • Sending disturbing messages (i.e., 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
  • Identifying with other persons who engaged in past violence toward others
  • Making statements that support the use of violence to resolve issues

Community support

Below are some valuable resources available to students, faculty and staff who have been impacted by the shooting in Las Vegas, or who would like support dealing with other issues:   

Emory Helpline is an anonymous, peer counseling telephone service for students. It is open from 8:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., seven days a week, during the regular academic year (excluding major holidays). Students with non-urgent mental health situations may contact the Helpline at 404-727-4357 (HELP).  

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) provides individual, group and couples counseling; stress management classes; and community outreach to provide support for students and assist them in negotiating emotional and interpersonal difficulties as they matriculate through Emory University. 404-727-7450.
 
Student Intervention Services (SIS) assists students in times of crisis. It also offers impartial, judgment-free counsel for students seeking guidance and assistance through life's ongoing challenges. 404-430-1120.

Student Health Services (SHS) offers free psychiatric services for all enrolled Emory students. Services include diagnostic psychiatric evaluations, medication evaluations, long-term management of psychiatric medications, and community referrals. Learn more information about reaching SHS after-hours emergencies or call 404-727-7551.

Office of Spiritual and Religious Life is located in the Alumni Memorial University Center (AMUC 125) and Cannon Chapel (Suite 316). Services are available for students, faculty and staff. 404-727-6225.

Faculty Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) provides support for employees, including daytime emergency appointments and on-call after-hours services. Visit the emergency services webpage or call 404-727-9355 (WELL).

For more information on how to be prepared, visit www.emergency.emory.edu.