Despite the best efforts of even the most trained and vigilant police forces, the possibility of experiencing an active shooter situation is a grim reality. Though Stony Brook has thankfully never experienced such a situation, it’s a threat that exists on all college campuses, not to mention many other areas of daily life.
As part of Stony Brook’s continued commitment to enhance safety measures and create a campus that is as safe as possible, the university hosted a “Campus Active Shooter Integrated Response” course in January.
The course was developed and conducted by the Louisiana State University National Center for Biomedical Research and Training (NCBRT) Academy of Counter-Terrorist Education. NCBRT is a nationally recognized center for emergency preparedness and response training located at Louisiana State University’s (LSU) campus in Baton Rouge. The course given at Stony Brook was the organization’s first official on-campus offering in the United States.
Colby Rowe, director of Emergency Management, Training, and Outreach for the Stony Brook University Police Department, said the goal of the course is to bring together people working in a campus environment to improve their response capabilities during an active shooter incident.
“The course combined lecture, case study reviews, discussions of campus capabilities, life-saving skills training and practical scenarios,” said Rowe. “This will help us evaluate the response capabilities of those who participate and assess what we need to do to ensure campus safety.”
Participants included the University Police Department (UPD), the Office of Emergency Management, Fire Marshals, Stony Brook University Hospital Public Safety and Emergency Management, the Campus Community Emergency Response Team, Suffolk County Police Homeland Security Division, NYPD Counterterrorism Division, several K-12 school administrators, and representatives from the Suffolk County Library System. The goal was to facilitate a combined action designed to increase survival during the first minutes after an active shooter event.
The first part of the course took place in the second-floor ballroom of the Stony Brook Union and featured lectures, discussion groups, and hands-on skills training like applying tourniquets and wound packing. The second day kicked off with a one-hour safety brief given by LSU instructors, followed by a full day of practical exercises that took place in the Student Activities Center (SAC).
“The second part of the course was designed to test the survival skills and techniques learned on day one in a series of pre-planned active shooter/mass casualty incidents,” said Rowe. “To do that, five different emergency scenarios were enacted in and around the SAC.”
Scenarios involving simulated gunfire and victims took place in different areas of the SAC, including the second-floor overflow dining area, the Student Affairs Conference Room, Ballroom A and the Gelber Auditorium. The Department of Campus Operations and Maintenance also made a bus available.
All scenarios were preceded by a warning broadcast over the fire alarm system, and several UPD officers were on hand to help ensure the safety of participants and bystanders. The Student Affairs suite was made available for the classes, and staff members participated in the scenarios.
“Our Student Affairs team is glad to help support this emergency preparedness and training program,” said Rick Gatteau, vice president for Student Affairs. “While we are a very safe campus, this proactive program helps our Stony Brook response team be well-prepared in the event of a threat or other concerning situation.”
All members of the Stony Brook campus community are encouraged to register for the SB Guardian personal safety system. SB Guardian is a free app that is available for all students, faculty, and staff and turns your smartphone into a personalized “blue light phone” in your pocket. Visit the app store for your iPhone or Android device and search for “Rave Guardian.”
An educational video titled “Run, Hide, Fight”, developed as part of a federal grant from the Department of Homeland Security, is used widely as emergency preparedness for higher education. The Stony Brook University Police Department also offers training for students, faculty and staff on what you can do to be better prepared and stay safe on campus. Contact the Community Relations Team at (631) 632-3056 for more information.
— Robert Emproto