“Be aware and be prepared.” That is the University of Richmond Hazards Preparedness website's statement about events involving an active shooter or dangerous person.
This plan is the “Run. Hide. Fight.” method listed on the website along with a video detailing what to do in an active-shooter situation.
For many staff and faculty members on campus, being prepared involves only one new-employee orientation session and these resources.
“I remember being struck by the training,” said department chair and professor of political science Richard Dagger.
Dagger has taught at the university for over eight years and was trained only once during his new-employee orientation. It was not what was in the training that surprised him but that it existed, he said.
Dagger taught at two universities, Arizona State University and Rhodes College, before coming to the University of Richmond. He said neither of these colleges had had preparation or discussion on active-shooter situations.
Dagger said his training had been given with a mixture of faculty and staff members on campus. He said a police officer had talked and pointed out what to do if the situation occurred.
“This was not very long after Virginia Tech,” Dagger said, referring to the mass shooting that had occurred at that university in 2007.
The training reminded Dagger that he was in Virginia and not far from the deadly shooting, he said.
The training discussed using classroom phones to send messages, Dagger said. He said messages would be on smartphones, but that he did not have one at the time.
“The university has not encouraged us to try to be heroes,” Dagger said.
He shared that there were no physical components to the in-person training and that the online resources were the main source for information. He said that professors receive yearly information, though not specifically for active shooters, from Counseling and Psychological Services. This information is used to identify warning signs in student behavior.
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The Hazard preparedness website lists the procedures for “Run. Hide. Fight.” There are also links to the Emergency Notification System and the video on active shooter training. The video goes through strategies and when each part of the procedure is best used.
“Here was the first I heard about that -- the run, hide, fight kind of video -- and discussion,” biology professor B. Daniel Pierce said.
Previously, he did post-doctoral work at Emory University and Clark Atlanta University. He was not aware of any active-shooter training provided by those institutions, he said.
Like Dagger, Pierce was trained only during new-employee orientation. He said it had been part of many presentations on hazards.
“It allayed some fears,” Pierce said.
Hearing about these active-shooter situations across the country made him wonder about safety procedures, he said. He said he had found the video helpful.
“I think what is frustrating about this time in our country is that there aren’t great solutions for many of these questions, and when you hear about, you know, kids having bulletproof backpacks or see-through backpacks, it doesn’t seem like that’s necessarily going to be like the right or a viable solution,” Pierce said.
Sara Rock, the administrative coordinator for the Office of International Education, said these types of situations were unpredictable.
Like Dagger and Pierce, she was trained during one session of active-shooter training during new-employee orientation. For her, the importance of the UR Alert system stood out. She recalled an armed robbery earlier this year on campus in which staff and students received instructions about what areas of campus to avoid before receiving a notification that the situation was clear.
Rock is also the emergency building coordinator for the Carole Weinstein International Center. She said that her building emergency plan booklet also detailed the steps to take in the event of an active shooter.
“In theory, it would be something that I would communicate to others around me if that type of emergency were to happen,” Rock said.
Rock said she had not gotten additional training as an emergency building coordinator, only additional information.
University Police Capt. Alfred Johnson trains police officers on how to respond to an active shooter or dangerous people on campus. He teaches the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training. This shows police how to isolate, distract and neutralize the shooter, Johnson said.
He said the University Police Department offered presentations to staff members, students and faculty members on active-shooter preparedness. The trainings are not mandatory and are usually requested by departments.
Johnson advertised the presentations and gave about four or five of them last year.
“With the several classes that we hosted, I just wish that more faculty, staff and students were present, as this is a very, very important topic,” Johnson said.
He said people needed to be mentally and physically ready for these types of situations.
“The only way that you can be prepared is to watch the 'Run. Hide. Fight.' video, and that will give you some confidence in what to do and what not to do,” Johnson said.
Today, the use of the 'Run. Hide. Fight.' method and other methods to defend against active shooters is more common. Several of the university's peers provide trainings or information on what to do in the event of an active shooter.
The University of Virginia uses the 'Run. Hide. Fight.' method. Wake Forest University provides a class on 'Run. Hide. Fight.' for students, staff and faculty and trains students on basic self-defense. Wake Forest also has information on what to do in the event of an active shooter.
William & Mary provides a guide on active shooters and armed threats that informs students to protect themselves. This guide does not directly reference 'Run. Hide. Fight.' However, it has many similar actions such as running when an active shooter is in the area.
Contact news writer Raven Baugh at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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