Purdue University, January 21, 2014: Cody Cousins, a 23-year-old student and teaching assistant, fatally shot fellow student and teaching assistant Andrew Boldt, 21, in a basement classroom of the University’s electrical engineering building. In the past week, five shootings have occurred in schools and universities across the country, this being the latest.
Considering the information available, the University appears to have executed their active shooter plan in an appropriate fashion. At the moment, there appears to be no precursor to suggest that Cousins was a threat to the campus community. Purdue University immediately executed their emergency plan following the incident. This involved declaring the campus in “lockdown mode” and on “Code Red alert”. Police were notified immediately, and students and staff were made aware of the incident via the school’s text message alert system. Events like these highlight the importance of having emergency plans in place, specifically for active shooter and other Code Red situations.
A lockdown is typically defined as students/personnel locking themselves inside the closest available room when alerted of an incident. During the lockdown, students are seated along a wall, out of sight, with the lights turned off. This disables any advantage an intruder, in this case active shooter, may have when seeking victims. Though locking down may not guarantee the safety of every individual, it is effective in preventing further damage if a threat arises. The essential concept behind a lockdown is to minimize as much damage as possible.
Reducing vulnerability begins with comprehensive risk assessment, followed by effective policy development and training. A plan means nothing if it is unable to be properly executed. Thorough assessment, policy development and training, academic leaders’ ability to secure assets and save lives are significantly enhanced.
Though every setting has different needs in varying emergencies, the Fallston Group recommends the following steps be implemented, at a minimum:
- Call 911 and coordinator of security
- Initiate “Code Red/Lockdown” to alert building inhabitants and prevent further disturbance
- Secure area of shooting, if possible
- Place administration/assigned staff at area, if possible
- Await police/fire arrival
These steps, along with determining an appropriate signal to signify the end of a lockdown, can help to protect the innocent. These occurrences are often unpredictable, so having a plan and training your staff can help save lives.
For more information regarding school or company safety and security, contact the Fallston Group at 410.420.2001 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.