CAMPUS LIFE EDITOR
It’s an unfortunate reality that in a country with loose gun control laws, mass shootings and active shooters releasing fire in public spheres have become increasingly common. The recent shooting in Thousand Oaks, Calif. marks mass shooting number 307 in the United States in 2018; this puts us only a few days short of one mass shooting every day this year according to USA Today. In the U.S., death by gunshot is the statistically the most likely way to die. According to Medium, approximately one in 63 students will find themselves in the midst of a school shooting. These statistics may be terrifying, but they are not meant to incite panic and chaos; rather, they are meant to sober up students and to have the College recognize the need for a plan of action in the case that one of the worst and most feared tragedies occurs. Though nothing can prepare a student for the trauma of witnessing a situation that only stricter gun laws can prevent, knowing how to stay safe and protect those around you can be the difference between life and death.
In the event that there is an armed individual on campus, be aware of the steps Campus Safety advises to take. First and foremost, remember that prevention is key. If you notice any suspicious behavior, even if you do not think it is worth reporting, report it. Trust your gut — especially in this case — it is better to be safe than sorry. If a person opens fire, follow these steps which can be found at whittier.edu/campussafety/emergencyprocedures/activeshooter.
Run – Have an escape route and plan in mind. Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow. Leave your belongings behind. Help others escape, if possible. Prevent others from entering an area where the active shooter might be. Keep your hands visible. Do not attempt to move wounded victims. Call 911 or Campus Safety at 562.907.4211 when you are safe.
Shelter in Place – Hide in an area out of the active shooter’s view. Block entry to your hiding place with heavy furniture and lock the doors. Silence your cell phone. Turn off radios, televisions, or other equipment that produces noise. Remain quiet, and remain calm. Call 911 or Campus Safety if possible to alert law enforcement of the shooter’s location. If you cannot speak, leave the line open to allow the dispatcher to listen.
Fight – As a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to incapacitate the active shooter. Act with physical aggression and throw items at the active shooter.
When law enforcement arrives on the scene, remain calm and follow officers’ instructions. Immediately raise your hands and spread your fingers, keeping your hands visible at all times. Avoid making quick movements toward officers such as attempting to hold on to them for safety. Avoid pointing, screaming and or yelling. Do not stop to ask officers for help or direction when evacuating, just proceed in the direction from which officers are entering the premises.
If possible, the United States Department of Homeland Security recommends you should provide information to law enforcement or 911 operators, including: location of the active shooter, number of shooters, if more than one, physical description of shooter(s), number and type of weapons held by the shooter(s), and number of potential victims at the location.
If you are still concerned about your preparation for such em=ergency situations, A.L.I.C.E. (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Escape) Institute Active Shooter Training is available to organizations and departments upon request. Reach out to a student organization or department to organize a training day. According to the my.whittier.edu, “First Aid, CPR. (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) /A.E.D. (Automated External Defibrillators) certification courses are held annually for Department of Campus Safety personnel. These classes are also available to the College community. For more information on the First Aid and CPR program, please contact Officer Fabian Perez at firstname.lastname@example.org.” As always, the Whittier College Counseling Center offers short-term counseling for students. To make an appointment, walk in or call 562.907.4239. If you need assistance after hours, you may call Campus Safety and ask to speak with the counselor on call. These may be scary times, but you are not alone.