UVU’s emergency response plan: is it enough?

Photo credit: Tiffany Frandsen

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Carrie Laudie | News Editor | @carrielaudie


There is an 8×11 piece of paper that hangs in some classrooms instructing students on what to do in the event of an emergency. For most students, that is the extent of the training they will receive if anything goes wrong on campus. One of the steps on the paper encourages students to “find the nearest trained faculty member.”

“I have gone through an orientation and a welcome-back-to-college—I don’t even know what the proper names are—but as far as I remember, I have not been told any emergency evacuations or response plans to earthquakes, to shooters on campus, to any of that… I have been in universities where in every classroom there is a five or six tab what to do list—not here,” said Jim Fisher, professor of communications.

According to Robin Ebmeyer, UVU’s director of emergency and risk management, all staff and faculty are required to be trained on emergency safety. There is a training video that every staff member is supposed to watch called “Safe Campus” and there is an HR form with a little box that is supposed to be checked once this training is complete. There is no real way to know if this training is taking place, though, and there seems to be a breakdown in communication somewhere in the process.

In every building, there is a designated building marshal and on every floor of the building, there are floor captains and assistant floor captains. These people are in charge of making sure that everyone in their building is safe or evacuated, if needed, when there is an emergency on campus.

“Look for the people in neon vests and hard hats,” said Steve Anderson, an assistant floor captain in the Losee Center.

A building would be considered cleared if all staff and faculty were accounted for. It is nearly impossible to know what students are in a building at any given time.

FacultyTrainingAccording to a 2013 omnibus study, only 3 percent of UVU students are very concerned about a school shooting happening on campus, 79 percent are unfamiliar with UVU’s emergency response plan to a shooting on campus, and 89 percent of students on campus feel safe or very safe.

Every student needs to ask themselves what they will do in an emergency situation. If students don’t have a plan now, they won’t have a plan then. Ebmeyer’s job is to prepare for emergencies that she hopes will never happen.

“Active shooter has been a big deal for us, and it is definitely on the radar of the president; he wants this campus to be safe, wants people to understand what to do in the event of something like that…figuring out what the dangers are, and then it is literally communicating with people what the dangers are and what their role is. That’s done in a variety of ways—training, education and drills—actually doing it. We have had an active shooter exercise that was a year ago, Dec 17. We had a shooter come into the Browning Administration building, and sealed it off so no one could come in. It took us six months to prepare for that. We did it with the hope that it would give the people who work in that building the opportunity to be in that environment,” said Ebmeyer.

“We have a team set up on campus, made up of several people. It’s called the behavioral assessment team. We talk about students who may be of concern, maybe there are some behavioral issues. These teams didn’t exist before the Virginia Tech shooting. What we learned basically from that situation was that the shooter had been exhibiting behavior all over the place, and people knew, but they had no way of coming together and putting all those pieces together and say, “Whoa we have a problem here.” That didn’t happen, it didn’t exist, and now 90 percent of campuses have some kind of team that does this. Ours meets every week. Our goal is to help the person so that we don’t get to the violence part.”

There are tools students should all be aware of to help prevent and be aware of what is going on around campus. There is a UVU app that can be downloaded to our smartphones that will send a push notification to students in the event of an emergency; it is a push notification that can’t be gotten rid of unless the app is deleted. Ebmeyer is also working with a team to have a step-by-step guide for students on the app, to tell what to do if there is an emergency, such as CPR instructions or evacuation procedures.

If there is an active emergency, students should call campus police at (801)863-5555. If students notice odd behavior in a professor or fellow student, it can be reported it to Ashley Larson in judicial affairs, at (801)863-1234.

“If you see something, say something,” said Ebmeyer.

There is also a twenty-minute video available online to anyone with a UVU ID called “Shots Fired,” specifically about active shooter situations on a college campus.

1 thought on “UVU’s emergency response plan: is it enough?

  1. Emergency Preparedness Solutions provides preparedness services to government, private, and not for profit entities including emergency and disaster planning, training, and exercises. We would be happy to work with UVU to help make your campus, students, faculty, and staff safer! Please contact us!

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