Surviving a Violent Intruder

Throughout history inexplicable acts of violence have been committed on campuses, in businesses and on street corners the whole world over. On November 3, UAF Police Chief Sean McGee presented Statewide employees with information to increase their odds of surviving such an assault if one should ever happen. In times of crisis, people’s natural responses -- fight, flight or freeze -- and the success of those choices, depend greatly on past experience. By practicing the drill, making decisions about where it is safe to shelter in place, or how to safely exit, the odds of surviving a violent intruder event are greatly increased.

Situational awareness is paramount; not only being aware of potential dangers in your midst, but also of potential weapons that can be used in defense. The average desk has many tools for self-defense, from ballpoint pens to keyboards, which can be used in an emergency situation. Safe sheltering points can be planned for in advance and fortified when used. Turning off lights, avoiding windowed rooms, stacking chairs, tables, filing chests or other objects against the door, and keeping the doors locked all improve survival odds.

The hour-long training session included an overview of past campus shootings, safe shelter in place and evacuation plans, and a question and answer session with Statewide staff. For those in the Butrovich building much of the focus was on preparing for the upcoming Violent Intruder drill. For those in Anchorage, watching via streaming video at their desks, the information was no less important. The survival instruction applies to all locations, not just the workplace. 

The discussion included information on the protocols of responding officers. It is important to know a little about what law enforcement have been trained to do in these situations too. The first officers on the scene will not be treating the wounded or evacuating survivors, their first priority is stopping the shooter. Persons asking about carrying personal handguns were reminded that in these situations responding officers are trained to key in on any person weilding a weapon as a potential threat.

Another issue of great importance raised during the discussion was making sure that everyone knew not to leave in such a situation, rather to assemble at the evacuation site or hide in the building and wait until emergency responders can take a count of everyone. Missing persons may be assumed dead, injured or taken hostage and could delay the process of securing the site of an event. 

Training included the opportunity for staff members to ask questions about the drill or the information presented.
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