September 25, 2023

Preparing for the unexpected

The following message is from the UMW Department of Public Safety.

UMW strives to provide protection and preparedness for any number of potential issues on our campuses. Understandably, in the wake of the recent tragedy in Florida, our students, faculty, and staff are anxious and concerned. In these moments, we have a joint responsibility as a community to support one another and respect each others’ feelings and responses to such tragic events. Our responsibility also extends to our need to notice when members of our community are struggling. We should encourage them to seek assistance and report behaviors that seem harmful or threatening.

Anyone with acute anxiety should take advantage of services offered by the Talley Center and the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Beyond that, the UMW Department of Public Safety has numerous resources available to help members of the community feel more prepared. Training is available for those who seek it; please contact the UMW Police at 540-654-1025 to arrange for training for an organization (student, faculty, or other), office, or department.

Below are links to two videos that depict a fictional representation of an active shooter scenario. They include very realistic imagery and content. Please be aware that watching these could elicit personal feelings and reactions, which is a normal response to such content.

Run Hide Fight

Crisis on Campus

Most importantly in a crisis:  Try not to panic. It is a normal human behavior to become frightened during a stressful event.

Making plans in advance and keeping your mind alert will assist in keeping you safe.  As a reminder, you may take these steps to help you in any environment in which you may experience violence:

  • RUN If possible, evacuate the area where the threat is present. Have a plan in mind and be aware of all possible escape routes. Leave all personal belongings behind. If you encounter the suspect, run in the opposite direction. If an incident is taking place outside, run in the opposite direction from the gunfire. As soon as you are safe, dial 654-4444 if you are on campus or 911 if you are in another location.
  • HIDE     If escaping is not an option, shelter in place. Shut and lock the doors. Pile large heavy objects against the doors. Stay away from the doors and walls closest to the hallway.  Shut the lights off in the room and silence your phone. Do not answer the door for anyone but law enforcement. If you are in a large open area, shelter behind large structures like concrete walls or buildings. Dial 654-4444 or 911 if/when you feel that it is safe.
  • FIGHT    This is a last resort decision. When you cannot flee and you face imminent danger, try to hide or consider playing dead. If you are stuck in a location and you know that the suspect is nearby, find objects that you can use as weapons or heavy objects, such as chairs, to throw at the suspect. If you decide to fight, commit yourself to this action. Once the aggressor is down, escape from the area as rapidly as possible.

Always follow the directions of law enforcement. In the case of an active shooter, keep your hands visible when exiting the building and seek shelter in a nearby safe location. Call for help by utilizing your cell phone or blue light phone.

Remember: Preparation now can help you respond in a frightening or dangerous moment.