Department of Safety offers preparedness tips for crisis situations

Across the United States, students and faculty are wondering how prepared their college campus will be in the event of an active shooter or a similar situation that happened last week at Mississippi State University.

“UTM is prepared if there was an active shooter on campus,” said Ray Coleman, the head of UTM’s Department of Safety. “The most important part is telling the students as quickly as possible what is happening so they can seek shelter.”

The University of Tennessee at Martin has what is called a multifaceted alert system. This system consists of multiple methods of communicating with students, including emergency text messaging, campus wide email, campus auto-dialer system, direct contact to building managers, emergency sirens, campus websites and most importantly word of mouth.

In the hypothetical event of an active shooter on campus, faculty and students should sound the alarm to anyone who may not have knowledge of the emergency and lock themselves in a classroom, dorm room, office, or any secure area.

Pulling the fire alarm is strongly discouraged, as it would signal students to evacuate the building, putting them in potential harm.

Scott Robbins, UTM Director of Safety, said that students are often able to prevent hostile situations from happening in the first place.

“The students can help by reporting threats,” said Robbins. “This way if a student needs help, we can help them.

“UTM police train with the Martin Police Department regularly to prepare for an active shooter,” added Robbins.

Special Agent Tom Hassell, FBI Memphis, Joint Terrorism Task Force, will host a presentation at UTM in October. Each UTM student is encouraged to attend to attend one of the two sessions. The first session will be held from 3-4 p.m. on Wednesday, October 28, and the second session will be held at 10-11:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 29. Both sessions will be held in Watkins Auditorium. Hassell has made many presentations throughout Shelby County, and has trained thousands of law enforcement officers. The presentations will cover the issues of active shooters on college campuses, and what to do if such a situation occurs.

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