Imagine sitting at a table in the Student Union Building (SUB). Students are playing ping pong, talking with friends in between classes, and picking up lunch. Within seconds this familiar, easy going environment is changed when a student terrorist bounds through the doors armed with a rifle. Would you know what to do? The answer for most students questioned in the SUB, was a resounding “no.”
Students seemed unaware of how they would handle any given emergency situation. While we are well versed in many subjects, survival ism doesn’t seem to be one of them. In our defense, we aren’t taught these skills in a conventional school setting. A few students recalled the drop and cover method that we learned as elementary school students, but scattered in were ideas of standing underneath a doorway, which the Red Cross stopped supporting years ago after they learned internal support structures wouldn’t keep a person safe.
Michael Griffing is an exception to most students on campus. As a veteran of the United States Army it was his job to learn awareness and always be one step ahead of danger. Now, as a student, he keeps those skills close at hand. Those skills, such as situational awareness (SA), are key in taking responsibility for our own safety. Whether a school shooting, or an earthquake, SA will keep you one step ahead. “Look for unusual things. If the birds aren’t chirping, or if you smell some type of chemical, be aware.” says Griffing.
Another important aspect to SA is being prepared. When you walk into a building on campus familiarize yourself with the emergency exits. Learn the escape routes (normally located inside the main entrance to each building). Lastly, remember where you can find resources. On campus you can find first aid supplies in the security office located in building 25.
Knowing these details is more important than ever. Televisions and newspapers are littered with images of natural disaster and violence. As students, we can use these events as an opportunity to learn to prepare ourselves. Taking responsibility for our own safety will distinguish those that stay calm from those that panic. In an emergency situation the ability to stay calm is of the utmost importance. If caught in an earthquake, fire, or other disaster, try to focus on your next task at hand. Focus on your breathing to keep yourself calm.
If you spend a lot of your time on campus consider carrying a small pouch of necessary items with you to school every day. Carrying items such as prescription medicine, a contact card with phone numbers, and extra water could play an important role in your ability to adapt in an emergency.
For more information on preparedness you can go to www.fema.gov or www.redcross.org.