As a result of the shooting in Newtown, Conn. there is an increasing debate about emergency plans all across the nation. Here at Keene State College, there has always been an emergency plan for different scenarios dating back to before the Virginia Tech shooting when the Emergency Operations Plan was made in 2007.
According to Director of Campus Safety Amanda Warman there haven’t been any changes in the emergency procedures. However, there have been some tweaks and follow-up on the current plan.
Warman said, “We did post new emergency procedures in the classrooms. We originally posted them in 2008, but I wanted make sure we updated them.” In addition to making sure emergency cards were posted, Warman said, “Tabletop training is being done with staff.”
Warman explained tabletop training is creating a scenario and talking through what to do if there are specific instances and then update the scenario so officers being trained have to respond to it.
Warman said Campus Safety is trying to set up a drill at some point with the Keene Police Department and Keene Fire Department in the future to help everyone on campus prepare physically.
However, regarding the physiological impact any emergency situation may involve, Warman stated, “I don’t think any campus is ever really ready for the full effect of what a shooter can do to a campus, and I don’t just mean the time that they are shooting. If somebody is really determined and nobody noticed the behavior or reported things they write in a paper or post on Facebook, or anything like those things and that person becomes an active shooter, their intent is to do some damage. No campus is prepared. If one person on your campus is injured, it’s devastating.”
One thing Warman pointed out was it might not always be an active shooter situation which creates tension.
There are other issues that arise on campus such as someone becoming suicidal, someone suffering from depression or even someone struggling in his or her class. Warman said, “We need to be aware of what is happening around us.” If students or staff see a behavioral problem they can report it to following areas as listed in the MyKSC announcement from Campus Safety that was posted on Jan. 18. For example, a concern about a staff member or faculty member anyone can contact Human Resources Director Kim Harkness.
In addition, a concern about a student can be directed to Counseling Center or the Dean of Students Gail Zimmerman. Finally, any concern can be directed to Campus Safety.
All of the Residence Halls are able to be locked in case of an emergency and two thirds of the academic buildings can be locked down.
Warman said that Campus Safety and KSC are working on getting the other buildings locked in emergency situations.
However, a few students indicated the campus is not doing enough. Senior Mike Murphy said, “I would like to see a little more.”
He referred to more Campus Safety officers around during the nighttime hours patrolling after the Nov. 17, 2012, robbery on campus when a student was robbed at gunpoint for his sweatshirt.
A student also said, “I think that the Campus Safety officers should be allowed to carry around guns like real police officers.”
Information provided by Associate Director of Campus Safety Ethan Kipnes stated that all new officers are required to complete a significant amount of training as part Campus Safety’s new officer training program.
Officers spend hours of time learning the layout and geography of KSC properties, reviewing college policies and procedures and local ordinances and laws. All new officers are also required to complete several training videos and online training modules, including Emergency Response.
According to Campus Safety, it takes a minimum of six to eight weeks to complete this before officers are released to work on their own.
In addition, Campus Safety officers are required to complete a Campus Safety officers training academy in their first year of employment.
According to Kipnes, this is a week-long live-in academy which includes 50 or more hours of classroom and practical training. Also, in case of medical emergencies officers are required to be CPR certified and learn how to use an AED (automated external defibrillator), which diagnoses and treats several cardiac problems.
After new officers go through the six to eight weeks of initial training, they are required regular training on an annual basis. Information also provided by Kipnes states, each summer Campus Safety officers complete a week of in-service, which generally accounts for an additional 20 to 30 hours of training for each officer on a variety of topics. Officers also complete a variety of specialized training such as Bike Patrol Training to Emergency Response Training.
Kipnes also stated, on average the past few years, each officer has 50 or more hours of additional training each year.
Finally, Warman pointed out that Campus Safety is prepared. Also they are ready for the more typical events statistically such as a fire, students getting hit by cars, or students dying of alcohol poisoning.
Even assaults are something that happen more commonly on a college campus. Warman stated, “We have to be prepared for everything.”
Brian Clemmenson can be
contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org