Conference on Campus Safety

Planning for the worst and how to effectively get through it was the topic of discussion at the National Seminar and Tabletop Exercise Series for Institutions of Higher Education hosted at UTSA.

According to FBI Intelligence Analyst Shanna O’Donnell there has been at least one active shooter incident per year from 2000 to 2017 and about 30 percent of the incidents are college related. Lone offenders, she added, are considered to be the most dangerous by the FBI.

Hearing statistics like this and how to avoid other dangers to the campus such as bomb threats, fire or organized crime consumed the two-day national conference. Five members from Northwest Vista College, and representatives from the Alamo Colleges District and sister colleges attended the event that was also sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. On behalf of NVC, Erin Sherman, Jill Sprowls, Garvin Dansby, Renata Serafin and Melissa Monroe-Young attended the conference.

Government officials and law enforcement facilitated sessions on looking at real-world scenarios, such as the Virginia Tech shooting. Experts encourage colleges and universities from across the nation to constantly drill, have plans in place, and create a culture where faculty and staff know what to do in an emergency. For instance, a local FBI expert shared stories of how he asked all senior leaders to stay in one spot because cell phone service was spotty during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks at the Pentagon. He also mentioned it became a challenge when VIPs, including the U.S. vice president, wanted to visit an active crime scene during Sutherland Springs.

Both large universities and smaller colleges in attendance voiced similar challenges from how to accurately get attendance at large events, and having enough staff from law enforcement to employees to oversee an event.

At NVC, as like most colleges, it follows the Incident Command System (ICS) which helps to quickly decipher roles in emergencies. NVC will put its ICS model to use when it engages with the city and county officials in a full-scale hazardous materials exercise planned for Nov. 9 from 1 to 5 pm.

Employees are encouraged to participate in all drills as they can be the change agent during an actual event. If you have any questions about Nov. 9, contact NVC Risk Management Coordinator Garvin Dansby at gdansby3@alamo.edu.

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