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Safety reminder: What to do in the event of a campus emergency

The recent assault at Ohio Sate University offers a reminder of the importance of knowing steps to take if a similar event should happen on our own campus, according to Emory’s Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response (CEPAR).

These types of public assaults and active shooter events are unpredictable, motives are different, and warning signs may vary, says Alex Isakov, CEPAR executive director and professor of emergency medicine.

But there are three steps you can take to increase your chances of safety and survival:


  • 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. 
  • Hide: 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. 
  • Fight: 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.

For more guidance on what to do during an active shooter event or similar emergency, CEPAR suggests reviewing the “Just in Time Guide to Campus Emergencies” and viewing "Run, Hide, Fight,” a video produced by the City of Houston's Mayor's Office of Public Safety and the Office of Homeland Security. (Please note that the video depicts a dramatization of a workplace shooting.)

Preparing for the unexpected

For the Emory community, it is important to be aware of campus resources and to prepare for the unexpected, notes Sam Shartar, CEPAR senior administrator.  

"It's an unfortunate reality, but the more proactive we are about this, the better our ability to respond," Shartar says. "Our desire is that people begin to have a dialogue and learn what they can do to protect themselves and others, no matter where they are."

To aid in that goal, Emory has assembled a Threat Assessment Team to help preserve the safety and security of the university community. If you have safety concerns about someone’s behavior, visit the Threat Assessment webpage to learn how you can help.

In addition, this fall the university is also offering a free mobile app, LiveSafe, to everyone on campus.

Developed for smartphones and tablets, the LiveSafe app provides a quick, convenient and discreet way for students, faculty and staff to summon help and communicate directly with public safety officials on Emory’s Atlanta and Oxford College campuses.

While emergency and preparedness resources can be found on Emory’s CEPAR website — including information about Emory’s emergency notification program, education and training, and quick links — the LiveSafe app now neatly corrals much of that information onto personal mobile devices.

The app is available as a free download here.

For more information on how to be prepared in an emergency, visit the CEPAR website.

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