Two recent high profile shootings reinforce the necessity for organizations to have an emergency preparedness plan in place for violent events.
The attack on concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas to the horrific events at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, reinforce the damage a single individual can cause. Even if it’s not the target, a campus may still be at risk because of its location in proximity to an incident.
When a violent event happens in a community, the possibility of a police search intersecting with a college campus or necessitating a campus lockdown always exists. Take last year’s Dallas mass shooting incident, for example, where an hours-long standoff took place on the second floor of El Centro College in downtown Dallas as students and faculty hid nearby. Given the heightened level of active shooter events, even in just the last couple of months, colleges need to consider to have an emergency response plan in place.
How Colleges Can Take an Effective Emergency Response Step
Since 2013 there have been 262 shootings on school campuses (this statistic includes all schools, not just college campuses). During such an event, the main concern of a college or university is safety: notifying students and securing the campus. Many other responsibilities, such as detaining the violent individual, are quickly taken over by municipal organizations. However, once the event has ended, the responsibilities of a college or university are far from over.
A large part of what a college can do in these situations, involve post-event actions. For an example, if a dormitory gets locked down because of a shooting, what happens to the students who were housed in that building while the investigation is occurring? How do you track all of the students that may have to be moved to another dormitory or housed in a shelter? Also, how do you monitor all of the resources that come in to help, not to mention managing the media?
Amidst the confusion of an on-going investigation and media blitz, colleges need to log significant numbers of incoming resource requests and monitor multiple critical information feeds. Due to the multitude of critical information needing to be logged, colleges feel overwhelmed with the responsibility to ensure everything is properly collected.
Available Web-Based Resources and Solutions
In order to overcome this feeling, schools can manage these responsibilities is by utilizing a web-based information management system, such as eICS for Higher Education.
A key component of a web-based system is reporting—not only during the event when you’re providing information to law enforcement, but also after the event as you’re debriefing on the event and the response. For example, colleges can run a report from the start of an incident through the most critical hours, showing a minute-by-minute log of each event. This is essentially a chronological record of what occurred and who responded when and where. That’s invaluable for training and for post-event evaluation on what went well and where improvements could be made.
For colleges and universities, utilizing tools like a proven web-based information management system can help add a layer of stability to an extremely hectic time. It's imperative for colleges and universities to review these possibilities to ensure utmost safety for their staff, faculty and students in their university's ever-changing environment.