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Campus & Community

Emergency Preparedness Q&A With Drexel’s Head of Public Safety

March 8, 2018

Emergency procedures

With tensions high on campuses in light of recent events, DrexelNow reached out to Drexel’s Vice President of Public Safety Eileen Behr to find out what Drexel Dragons can do to be more prepared in the event of a crisis.

Q: Can you give some examples of emergency situations and what people can do to respond to them?

A: Public Safety offers a “Personal Preparedness Plan” that gives clear advice on what to do during situations involving a fire, an active shooter, an evacuation, lockdown or bomb threat on campus.

In general, Dragons can take steps before an emergency to be better prepared, like signing up for DrexelALERT, downloading the free Drexel Guardian application to their smartphone and saving the number for Drexel Public Safety (215.895.2222) and our Walking Escort Services (215.895.2822). They can also familiarize themselves with campus emergency telephone locations.

You should immediately report any activity or incidents to police. Report your location and what you see or hear and include a building name, room number, number or people with you, as well as:      

  • Who or what you saw
  • When you saw it
  • Where it occurred
  • Why it’s suspicious

In an active shooter situation, determine the best way to protect yourself: run, hide or be prepared to fight. To further learn about this “Run. Hide. Fight,” there’s a five-minute training enactment video explaining this — viewer discretion is advised.

  • Be aware of your environment and any possible dangers
  • Take note of the two nearest exits in any facility you visit
  • If you are in a hallway, get into a room and secure the door if you cannot safely get out of the building
  • If you are stuck in an office or classroom, stay there and secure the door; blockade with furniture or large items
  • Stay away from windows and doors — out of the shooter’s view
  • Remain as quiet as possible and silence your phone
  • If possible, call police and provide your exact location
  • As a last resort, attempt to take the active shooter down
  • If a shooter is at close range and you cannot flee, your chance of survival is much greater if you try to incapacitate him/her; use any object to throw or hit subject, even a desk can be a tool used to throw at a subject shooting

If you made the decision to lockdown or stay secure, silence phones and remain quiet. Stop, listen, look around to see if you can see any activity, hear any shots or noise and look for a way to escape if possible. 

Q: What should Dragons be on the lookout for?

A: Suspicions activity can include yelling, screaming, shots, fire or smoke, persons walking aimlessly in an area — if you think you should call police, you should. Never hesitate to call police! Police would rather know about something suspicious and verify it not to be a problem than to have someone ignore it and never give police the opportunity to investigate.

Suspicions activity may include unusual vehicles, items or situations, like:

  • A vehicle is parked in an odd location
  • Unattended luggage or package
  • A window or door is open that is usually closed now propped or damaged
  • A person questions individuals at a level beyond curiosity about a building’s purpose, operations, security procedures and/or personnel, shift changes, etc.

Threatening or strange electronic messages should be reported to police as soon as possible. People are often afraid of “getting someone in trouble” so activity is not reported. This includes social media posts! Take screenshots to save the posts.

Often suspicious or strange activity many lead to police assisting a person in getting counseling or some type of support, not always arrested.

Q: What can buildings, offices, departments and/or workspaces do to prepare for any emergencies? Should they come up with safety plans or drills, or are there safety plans or drills already in place?

A: Each department and each person should think about a safety plan for their classroom, office, home and/or residence hall — and everywhere they go.

In recent years, since 2012, most incidents have occurred in commercial areas and outdoor events, to include theaters and night clubs. When attending any event, be aware of your surroundings and look for exits.

While the Department of Public Safety encourages all Dragons — including any buildings, offices, departments and/or workspaces — to take the “Public Safety & U” workplace safety training program, we have created a brief, online version available to all faculty and staff titled “Public Safety & U — Are you Prepared.” This 15-minute interactive course is available through Career Pathway, and focuses on the importance of reporting suspicious activity and what do if you encounter an active shooter event. This course allows an individual to become more knowledgeable and prepared for the unthinkable from his/her office desk with no time constraints.

Q: What is involved with the Drexel University Emergency Preparedness Plan (DUEPP)?

A: The Emergency Preparedness Bulletin is a guide that identifies detailed places of refuge and situation-specific behavior posted in each building. Emergency Procedures Bulletins are located in each University-owned building near entrances or elevators. The Bulletin identifies specific areas of refuge, shelter areas and assembly rally points. Familiarity with the Emergency Procedures Bulletin is the best way to prepare for rare, but possible emergencies.

Drexel collaborates with the City of Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management and the University City Emergency Preparedness Steering Team. The Office of Emergency Preparedness works collaboratively with the City Office of Emergency Management and plays an active part in the development of the University City and Drexel University evacuation maps, as well as the University City High-Rise Building Evacuation Rallying Points Plan.

Q: In 2016, DrexelNow featured an article about what to do in an active shooter situation and it mentioned the “Public Safety & U” program, which is a workplace safety program. Is it still available? Have there been any updates to the program?

A: Now, over 7,000 Dragons have participated in the program since its inception in 2016. Updates include additional education and discussion on terrorist activity such as situational awareness in clubs, theaters or public venues — not just in the classroom.

Q: Is there anything else that you would like to add?

A: Community members are a critical resource in supporting law enforcement’s efforts to prevent crime and terrorism. Police complaints and tip line reports provide police valuable information in predicting and preventing crimes and acts of terrorism.

Community members can provide tips to police on crimes and suspicious activity by phone at 215.895.2222 or through our tip line on our website.

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