Campus Security addresses emergencies
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Campus Security addresses emergencies

Crisis situations on college campuses are becoming all too familiar in many areas, but if a crisis strikes Belmont, Campus Security has a plan.

Director of Campus Security Terry White said the Crisis Emergency Management Plan was created to communicate with students and faculty during an emergency.

White said the CEMP is used “anytime personal safety is concerned.” These instances might include a weather emergency, fires, wrecks and situations with a hostage or shooter.

CEMP differs depending on the circumstances; the action required by Campus Security depends on the crisis taking place. The basic outline of the plan is to respond to the situation/call, get proper assistance if necessary – Metro Police, for example – and notify Greg Pillon, director of the Office of Marketing and Communications, to send out a text message alert.

The CEMP has been employed in the past. It was used in 2008 during a “shooter” situation in the Thrailkill Hall parking garage. The situation turned out to be a false alarm involving two Belmont students, but Campus Security responded by calling Metro Police and sending out text alerts once enough information was confirmed. Belmont Security sent another text informing students and staff that the situation had been resolved.

Campus Security takes measures to ensure its officers are prepared to respond in crisis situations.

“There is monthly training, as well as ‘Tabletop Exercises’ where I give a scenario piece-by-piece,” White said. Belmont Security also participates in on-the-job training.

Campus Security works to help faculty and students protect themselves, as well. Last spring, faculty were invited to several film viewings of Shots Fired. This film discusses ways to protect oneself and one’s students if a Virginia Tech situation were to occur on the Belmont campus.

This film viewing was offered to students as convocation credit this fall. While no more viewings are scheduled, more may be planned for spring.

“The best training for students and staff is to see the film and remember ‘Get out, hide out, take out’,” White said. “It’s impossible to run drills because of the various factors that could occur.”

Staying informed during a crisis situation can be difficult because the issue is often resolved before accurate information can be sent out. Students should remember the text alert system is designed to disseminate quick information, not a lengthy report. “We have to get the most important information in 116 characters,” White said about the text system.

White said students must also take steps to ensure their own safety. “There’s no way I can guarantee your safety; each individual must [protect] themselves.”