Don’t put yourself in daily danger
By Josh Wood
It’s after lunch and you have a paper due in 40 minutes. You plug in your headphones, turn up the music, and focus every synapse on writing.
You have just put yourself in danger.
According to Chemeketa’s Public Safety Department, the thousands of students who tune out the world every day while at college may be exposing themselves to potential harm. If an active shooter were to enter the building, students who are not paying attention to their surroundings might not comprehend the situation until it is too late.
An active shooter situation at Chemeketa may seem unlikely. However, according to the college website, at full enrollment the population of Chemeketa is approximately the size of Keizer. This concentration of people could make the college a target for a shooter.
Chemeketa is not waiting for such a situation to develop however. Public Safety has many programs in place to prevent such a catastrophe, officer David Yost said.
Public Safety actively seeks out possible threats to students. Bill Kohlmeyer, the college’s Public Safety director, has established threat assessment teams that go over weekly concerns.
Among the aids and reminders that the college offers students in the event of a crisis:
Posters in every building which tell what to do in a given emergency;
Emergency phones in the classrooms that are a direct line to Public Safety;
Signs that show the room number in the classroom; and
Automatically locking doors on classrooms.
“Primarily were here for safety, but secondly were here to educate,” Yost said. “That’s our main goal.”
Public Safety also is working to educate students about what to do during an active shooter situation.
“Everyone before they come here goes to the new student orientation. … That could be where you sit them down and bring up scenarios … to heighten your awareness,” Yost said.
Public Safety is constantly trying to invent new ways to inform students, Yost said. One of the latest is bookmarks.
“We made bookmarks of all of our information that’s pertinent … that The Book Store is going to start giving out to everyone,” Yost said.
What should students do in the event of an active shooter?
Public Safety has outlined a three-step plan in a video created for Chemeketa students and staff.
The first step is to run. If at all possible, get out of the building. Once out, stay out of the parking lots and roads to and from the college.
If you can’t run, hiding is the next step. Barricade doors and windows, close blinds, turn out lights, and turn cell phones on vibrate.
If you can’t run or hide, the third step is to confront the aggressor and fight for your life.
Preparation before a potential situation also is vital.
To prepare for an active shooter situation before it happens, students should be aware of their surroundings, Yost said.
One of the main inhibitors to awareness is electronics.
“Either people are in the library, where you have to wear headphones, or you’re zoned in on the class you’re in or listening to music to focus on homework,” Yost said. “It’s a lack of situational awareness and being so immersed in their own personal agendas that they think they’re the only one in the room and they’re not aware of anything.
“In order to have a successful and safe time at Chemeketa, you need to know your surroundings.”
Students can also be prepared for an emergency by being mentally prepared, Yost said.
“Before you go into every building, read the map. It shows an escape plan. Know where the emergency phones are,” Yost said. “Know your exits and hiding places.”
Each new crop of students at Chemeketa is more prepared for an active shooter situation than the last, thanks to the college’s ceaseless efforts.
The Chemeketa emergency video may be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzYQXpmwGOk.
Students can sign up for text alerts at alerts.chemeketa.edu.