Campus News News

Emergency preparedness

By Danny Priest

On Wednesday afternoon, a smattering of students and faculty made their way over to the Fuller Arts Center at Springfield College for a presentation.

However, the presentation displayed was not the typical performance seen inside of Fuller. Students are accustomed to Vagina Monologues, acapella concerts, and Best of Broadway, among other things being held in the auditorium. 

This time it was Springfield College Public Safety, led by Sergeant Dan Cotter, giving a presentation on emergency preparedness and civilian response to active shooters.

Cotter was joined by Detective Sergeant Joe Tiraboschi and Officer Dylan Sullivan for the presentation.  

While not as glitzy or glamorous as the other events, Public Safety’s presentation was an important one, and one everyone on campus should be aware of. Especially in a day and age where tragedies on school grounds and in public areas are sadly becoming the norm.

Cotter gave two presentations on Wednesday, one from 12-1:30 p.m. and another from 7-8:30 p.m. Both covered the same information and theme of keeping campus safe and prepared.

Cotter kicked things off by asking the crowd whether or not they felt like Springfield College would be prepared in the instance of an active shooter. His question was met with sparse raising of hands.

“The bottom line is the fact that we’re even having this dialogue right now shows that we’re actually ahead of where a lot of other institutions are. It’s the fact that you folks have realized that it’s time to have this conversation,” Cotter told the crowd.

“For a lot of years, especially in higher education facilities, people didn’t want to have these conversations. They’re uncomfortable to have, but it’s an unfortunate reality at this point,” he added. 

The presentation started by stressing to the crowd that the information covered pertained to more than just shooters. It focused on natural, technological, and man-made disasters as well.

Cotter was also sure to point out that the topic was not restricted to active shooters, but includes any act of violence by a person with the intent to kill.

On one of the slides, Public Safety defined what exactly an active killer is: “An individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.” 

After cutting through the nitty gritty information, Cotter moved on to actual details on what to do. His key point was always staying aware of surroundings and being able to give accurate information back to police.

A few things Cotter mentioned that witnesses should be able to recite to police were: the location of the active shooter, the number of shooters (if more than one), a physical description of shooters, the number and type of weapons held by the shooters, and the number of potential victims at the location.

Cotter then proceeded to show a video from the Department of Homeland Security detailing the “RUN. HIDE. FIGHT” method of response and survival.

Each step displayed in the video was self-explanatory (running if the option is there, hiding in a secure location, fighting if needed).

What Cotter explained after was a bit more important. He told the crowd about the three types of disaster personalities: denial, deliberation, and the decisive moment where an individual decides whether to run, act, or hide.

“The people that cycle through these three things — denial, deliberation, and the decisive moment — the quickest ultimately have the best chance of survival in an emergency situation,” Cotter said.

Cotter’s key takeaway for the audience was that individuals cannot do anything without thinking first. The body cannot go somewhere the mind has never been,” was a key point made throughout the presentation.

Cotter stressed to those in attendance that remaining calm and trusting law enforcement was something to remember.

“The reason why police officers wear uniforms is so they can be differentiated. It’s the instant command presence that they get on scene,” he said.

“It attracts attention towards them, if we’re in an emergency catastrophic situation, it’s human nature to be drawn to that uniform, but that officer has a job to do. So as that officer first arrives on the scene, their primary focus is going to be to stop the threat on human life,” he said.

Cotter closed by reminding everyone in attendance that if they see something suspicious, say something. He also made sure the crowd recognized the importance of knowing how they would personally react in a crisis situation and  that remaining calm was key.

The plan is for more sessions to be held later in this semester for individuals who may have been unable to make it to either of Wednesday’s sessions.

While those on campus are always expected to adhere to the information covered in the presentation, please remember Public Safety can be reached for emergencies at (413) 748-555 and non-emergencies at (413) 748-3516.

Photo Courtesy Springfield College Marketing & Communications

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