Emory responds to recent shootings with resources for support and safety

Emory Report | Aug. 6, 2019

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As the Emory community joins the nation in mourning the victims of recent mass shootings, President Claire E. Sterk is speaking out against the “atrocious acts” of violence and pledging that the university will remain committed to embracing diversity and providing support for those affected by the tragedies.

On Saturday, Aug. 3, a man opened fire at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas; 22 victims have now died. Just hours later, another man began shooting in a popular nightlife district in Dayton, Ohio, killing nine. The attacks came a week after the July 28 shootings at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California, where three people were killed. Dozens more were wounded in the three attacks. 

“Our hearts are broken with the news coming from El Paso, Dayton and GilroyOur deepest condolences go out to the families, friends and communities harmed by yet more mass shootings,” Sterk says. “These atrocious acts violate our core values of treating all human beings with respect and compassion. Emory will continue to speak out against violence and hatred, embrace genuine diversity and stand in support of all members of our community.” 

Emory offers a variety of support resources that are available to faculty, staff and students who have been impacted by these tragedies, or who would like help dealing with other issues: 

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 for 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. 404-727-6226. 

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). 

Steps for preparedness and prevention

The recent shootings offer an opportunity to review resources that can help prepare the campus community to react to this type of tragedy. 

"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, executive director of Emory’s Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response (CEPAR) and professor of emergency medicine.

Download LiveSafe to have immediate access to the Emory Police and to emergency procedures.

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 it 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 to 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 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, everyone has a shared responsibility to identify and report concerning behavior.

“What you see may be one piece of a much larger pattern of behavior. By reporting what you know, you help inform decision-making,” explains Sam Shartar, senior administrator and director of operations for CEPAR. “We would 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.

Contacting 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 for non-emergency reports by sending an email to threatassessment@emory.edu