By David McLain
Thursday’s Safety Awareness Day began with an ambiguously worded text message sent to the Baylor student body that many students thought implied an emergency.
A second text message clarifying “Shots Fired” did not indicate an emergency, but referred to an “educational presentation in Baines,” a room located in the Bill Daniel Student Center, swiftly followed the first message.
Students lined the edge of Fountain Mall at 4:30 p.m. to watch the “Live Burn,” where two fire trucks from Waco Fire Stations One and Four flanked a mock dorm room intentionally incinerated by the Waco Fire Department. The controlled fire was to show the students how quickly a fire can grow in a dorm room setting, Paul Simmons of the Waco Fire Department said.
Simmons commented on the flame as it grew in the room, offering advice on how to react and pointing out dangers as they appeared.
“Think and always be prepared. Have two exits in mind wherever you are at,” Simmons said.
Simmons directed the eyes of the onlookers toward the smoke line that became visible high in the room within two minutes of the fire starting.
Resource tables showcasing various safety groups were set up in Barfield Drawing Room in the SUB.
The room began to see some welcomed faces in the early afternoon, following a brief lull in student interest in the tables. As the students visited each table, the representatives briefly talked about the groups they represented and offered the students further information on each subject.
Two slideshows were set up in Barfield continuously looping through a presentation on fire emergency awareness and other safety information.
Mark Fox, a representative of the National Weather Service of Ft. Worth, recognized Baylor as a StormReady community during a presentation in Barfield.
“Only 4 percent of the United States population lives in a community that is storm ready,” Fox said. “Baylor is a rare university…it has gone way above and beyond what is necessary to make sure Baylor is prepared.”
He presented Baylor with a StormReady sign to be placed in a visible area on campus designating the university as StormReady.
He also presented Baylor with a certificate from the National Weather Service.
“Storm ready does not mean storm proof. We must still be prepared when that weather comes around,” Fox said, as he beckoned with his hand toward the various organizations represented by the reference tables.
Baylor Police Officer Kandy Knowles gave a presentation in the Baines Room of the SUB entitled “Shots Fired.”
There have been 372 reported school shootings since 1992, with 21 occurring in the past year, Knowles said.
She said six of the 21 in the past year were on university campuses.
Knowles emphasized the inaccuracies of the active shooter stereotypes that the media attention on the tragic events in Columbine, Colo. Not every active shooter will be a white male in a trench coat, Knowles said.
“They are real people, with real lives and real problems, that you have the ability to detect,” Knowles said.