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Safety in a Crisis: Knowledge is Power

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
October 15, 2008

When a shooting happens on a college campus, it’s usually all over before the police even arrive. So, what do you do before then?

Should you try to run? Hide? Take action against the assailant? According to a new training program and video recently purchased by the UNH Police Department, it’s all three. But the most important thing, says Deputy Chief Paul Dean, is to be aware.

“Survival has a lot to do with having information,” Dean says. “Knowledge is power.”

“Shots Fired on Campus: When Lightning Strikes” is a 20-minute video put out by the Center for Personal Protection and Safety that’s geared specifically for colleges and universities.  

Dean has already conducted training sessions for the offices of the president, the foundation, the alumni association, communication and marketing, and housing. Eventually he wants to get the information to everyone on campus.

“The second this training is over, you are better off than the person who hasn’t had the training. I believe every single one of us can do things we never would have thought possible,” Dean says. “Ordinary people in times of crisis can to extraordinary things.”

Evidence from past school shootings shows people have a greater chance of surviving if they take action. Asking the question “what if?” helps to develop survival skills.

In “Shots Fired” viewers are taught the importance trusting their instincts; if you hear something that sounds like gunfire, assume that it is and decide on a course of action. A parallel is drawn to traveling by air and having flight attendants point out the exits; it’s about being mindful not fearful.

The safest steps should always be taken first: if you can get out of the building, get out. If not, hide. And if you’re with a group of people, spread out; shut out the lights and close the door. Quietly discuss what to do if the shooter makes his way into the room. Be prepared to disarm him if necessary.

“If someone with a gun comes in, you have to be prepared to do everything you can to survive,” Dean says. “You have to assume the shooter is a threat to your life. You have to convince yourself you have the ability to survive if your life is on the line, and do whatever is necessary.”

For more information or to find out about having a presentation done in your department contact Paul Dean at 2-1427.

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