Emergency Management provides important lessons in campus safety

Sarah Powell, Director of Emergency Management at Temple University, and Charles Leone, Executive Director of the Temple University Department of Campus Safety Services, recently presented “Run, Hide, Fight: Personal Preparedness for Possible Incidents on Campus" at Temple Ambler.

By Kathleen Burns
Marketing and Public Relations Intern

In the event of a serious incident — on campus, at work, out with friends — would you be prepared?

“Often in dangerous situations, people will panic, they’ll freeze. But thinking about how you’ll respond and planning ahead knocks you out that ‘freeze mode’ quickly,” said Sarah Powell, Director of Emergency Management at Temple University. “The more you think about something and react to it, the more likely you are to respond automatically. The main thing to remember is that in any situation, you are not helpless.”

Powell and Charles Leone, Executive Director of the Temple University Department of Campus Safety Services, recently presented “Run, Hide, Fight: Personal Preparedness for Possible Incidents on Campus,” a special “Lunch & Learn” program sponsored by the Ambler Campus Office of Student Life.

The program was designed to highlight campus safety information essential for all Temple students, faculty and staff. The workshop was just one of many actions Emergency Management has planned to ensure that the Ambler Campus is “TUready,” according to Powell. 

“Working with campus administrators, we are developing new emergency management plans, procedures and protocols for Temple Ambler,” she said. “The goal for the ‘Run. Hide Fight.’ program was to talk about emergency preparedness across the board, not just on campus. Personal preparedness applies to you wherever you are; whether you’re on campus, on the subway, or at Target.”

Different types of emergencies call for different responses, said Powell. Temple University has three main procedures in place for emergency situations on campus: Evacuation, Shelter-in-Place, and Lockdown.

“If you hear a fire alarm go off in your building don’t immediately assume it is a false alarm or ‘just a drill.’ Evacuate the building; leave immediately in response to the alarm,” said Powell. “If you hear the TUsiren at Main Campus, it is alerting you to an external threat — shelter-in-place and stay away from windows and doors.”

During the most serious threats — such as an active shooter — follow “lockdown” procedures, said Leone.

“In a lockdown situation, there is an immediate threat to the building occupants. We are working with Ambler to create a universal lockdown system,” he said. “Your lockdown goal is to be quiet, be still and to immediately silence your cell phones as they could give your position away. If you can get away, run. If you are in close proximity to the threat, hide and, if possible, barricade your location. If necessary, you have to be prepared to fight.”

Being prepared for an emergency is more than procedure, being prepared is a “matter of personal survival,” Powell said. 

“People don’t want to think about it, but events like this can happen anywhere. We do know that mass shootings are occurring with increasing frequency,” she said. “A shooter’s actions can be very unpredictable. It’s our job to help prepare students, faculty and staff for any situation. I find the people who are the most anxious in emergency situations are the ones who are not prepared.”

Temple University is fully aware of the possible dangers students, faculty, and staff could face. It is the reason that Temple has put so much time and resources into campus safety and emergency preparedness — the Temple University Police Department is one of the largest campus police forces in the country, Leone said.

“We have annual departmental police training, active shooter drills, interactive training or simunitions available each shift, and support from local police,” he said. “With regard to Temple Ambler, we have a strong relationship with the Upper Dublin Police Department. You may need to act but be reassured trained professionals are on their way.”

Leone said that while Temple has taken tremendous steps to create a safe and secure environment, the initial few minutes of an incident, “are critical to survival.”

“Tragedies such as the shootings at Columbine and Virginia Tech took place in a span of just 7 to 8 minutes. This is why it is crucial you know what to do in those first few minutes,” he said.  “Be aware of your surroundings. There are a lot of open spaces and trees on campus; locate the spots where you could take shelter. Be creative; locate items that could be used as weapons. Visualize your movements in advance, use cover and use any available means to get out of danger.”

Powell and Leone also emphasized that all students, faculty and staff should be signed up for the TUAlert system, which sends emergency texts and emails alerting the University community of any incidents or emergencies. 

Visit here to learn more about registering for the TUAlert system.

“The TUAlert system is a call to action,” Powell said. “Take action immediately for your own safety.”

For information on how you can be TUready for any situation, visit www.temple.edu/tuready.