By Thomas Moran | Staff Writer
There have been 11 school shootings in the United States in the first 23 days of 2018, according to the New York Times. Reports of such incidents are seemingly loosing their impact and weight because of the frequency with which they occur.
In lieu of the increasing threat, Baylor Police Chief Brad Wigtil urges students to become more knowledgeable about emergency procedures.
With over 1,000 security cameras, 81 emergency call boxes, 152 emergency telephones and both indoor and outdoor emergency alert systems, Baylor’s campus is well-equipped with resources that students can and should use if an active shooter situation were to arise.
Director of emergency management Leigh Ann Moffett works to have individuals in every building trained to be prepared to handle many emergency situations, including active shooter situations.
“Within each of the facilities we have persons who are called Building Emergency Coordinators,” Moffet said. “We have a program consisting of over 400 Building Emergency Coordinators. We work directly with them to train them on what to do in the event of an evacuation, a shelter situation, or some other type of threat.”
Building Emergency Coordinators, are trained with a program called “CRASE,” or Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events. Students should obey and follow uilding Emergency Coordinators, equipped with labelled florescent vests, in emergency situations, Moffett said.
In some emergency situations, it might be unsafe or impractical to attempt to find a Building Emergency Coordinator for instructions. Wigtil and Moffett use the acronym “ADD” to remind students and faculty how to handle active shooter situations.
The ‘A’ in the acronym stands for ‘avoid,’ which is the best option, Wigtil said. Students should have a plan in every building that they regularly spend time in.
“Have an exit strategy,” Wigtil said. “Buildings that you regularly visit on campus…You should know two ways out.”
The next part of the acronym, which should be used if safe exit is uncertain or not possible, is to deny entry to anyone seeking to cause harm.
Even if the door does not have a lock, students can push furniture in front of the door or use a shoe as a doorstop, Moffett said. Students should do whatever they can to prevent the attacker from entering the room.
The final part of the acronym, which should be used only as a last resort, is physical defense against an attacker. There are self-defense lifetime fitness courses available to students seeking training in this area.
Wigtil said creating a mental plan regarding how one is going to handle emergency situations of any kind can help prevent one from freezing up if an incident were to arise.
“If you do prepare and think through what you’re going to do, if you’re ever, God forbid, faced with that kind of a situation, you are less likely to freeze than if you never think about it,” Wigtil said.
Students can fall into a sort of emotional apathy regarding emergency situations if they have never experienced one, but the world no longer affords people the ability to have that perspective, Moffett said.
“Take a look at what’s been in the news in the last week, even with all the school shootings here in the state of Texas,” Moffett said. “Take a look at the realism of the events of being at a concert in Las Vegas where you’re there to enjoy hearing musicians provide you with great music or going to church and thinking nothing of it and something is happening. We are no longer in a place where we can be in that line of thinking that it will never happen.”
If a student sees suspicious behavior or is even remotely concerned that someone might cause harm to others or him/herself, it is always okay to contact the police Wigtil said. In his view, they would much prefer a call about suspicious behavior than a call for emergency medical care.
Moffatt said any student groups seeking training are welcomed to reach out to the BUDPS.
“It’s not challenging for us to get training to students, but it’s challenging for us to get students to the training and get that information in front of them,” Moffett said.
Moffett and Wigtil agree that training and mental preparedness will do no harm, but could be deciding factors should an active shooter situation ever arise.
“We do not want to make anyone paranoid or feel like they have to live in fear, but we want to empower them to have the ability to take care of themselves and feel confident in the decisions that they may be faced with having to make,” Moffett said.