Since the spread of H1N1, a flu virus that targeted college-aged adults in 2009, a response plan was created with students and parents for their protection. This plan, otherwise known as an Emergency Support Function (ESF) allows faculty and staff at Keene State College to precisely know how to respond to any possible emergency situation on campus.
The document is protected in order to ensure that the public cannot directly have access to emergency escape procedures. According to the Keene Police Department’s liaison officer Kyle Macie, “A lot of our response is held very close to the chest and we do not release information like that. If people knew how we responded to an incident they might use it against us.”
Leonard Crossman, Assistant Director of Campus Safety, said that although Keene State College (KSC) has 20 full-time officers, the school could always use more officers, especially if they were to start carrying firearms. Crossman added that fortunately KSC’s campus has a compact layout and the college can rely on KPD to provide that option.
Crossman explained, “It is easy to manage our college. Our police force is right down the street. We have that confidence where colleges elsewhere doesn’t have the confidence in law enforcement.”
As a protocol KSC does lockdown drills once a semester with staff to test emergency precautions. However, unlike high school, college students are adults and during emergency situations need to make their own decisions. “Run, hide, fight. If you have the ability to get out–go,” Crossman said.
In cases of emergencies on-campus students and faculty, as well as any others who have subscribed are alerted via text, phone call and email of the incident occurring on campus.
In addition to alerting members of campus, there are a variety of surrounding units closely tied to each other which are alerted during emergencies. These include the Cheshire Medical Center, the Counseling Center, Environmental Health and Safety, Residential Life and more who work together to coordinate response plans.
Director of the Center for Health and Wellness Christine Burke said that it is hard to say exactly what she would do during an emergency. If the circumstance do arise however, Burke said she and her staff would pull that ESF off the shelf and read what their response plan is according to these policies. If the incident doesn’t directly involve Health and Wellness they might be asked to step in or volunteer to help coordinate a plan with other departments.
Burke said the health and wellness center has regular meetings in which they come together as a team and discuss precautions in case of an emergency. During these meetings she said they propose situations as if it were actually happening to practice orchestrating solutions.
In the case of a shooting or gunman on campus Burke said that she wouldn’t necessarily be directly involved nor would her department. She would, however, have to secure the waiting room of the health and wellness center, bring any and all patients to a secured locked area and wait until she was informed it was okay otherwise.
Emergency instructions are also pasted on green paper in classroom walls throughout campus.
Alexandra Enayat can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org