WVU looks at safety plans

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WVU looks at safety plans

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Issue Date:Wednesday April 18, 2007
Section: HeadLine News Section
By Jon Offredo, Staff Writer

What if it happened here?

Would West Virginia University be prepared for a horrific incident such as the tragedy that occurred at Virginia Tech on Monday?

The answer is yes, University officials say.

"Blacksburg is a lot like Morgantown, and if it could happen there, it could happen anywhere," said West Virginia University spokeswoman Becky Loftstead.

"In light of this, we are going to review the emergency plan and look at it intensely to make sure that all of our 'I's are dotted and 'T's are crossed to make sure any event like this is covered," Loftstead said.

Prior to the massacre in Blacksburg, WVU officials were in the process of finding vendors to provide University-wide text messaging services in the event of an emergency, Loftstead said.

Currently, the University would broadcast announcements on MIX and forward them to WVU.edu e-mail addresses as it does when canceling class during the winter.

Officials were also looking into the idea of large messaging centers that would be visible in high traffic areas.

Dr. Dan Della-Giustina, a WVU professor and expert in public safety, also suggested the implementation of a University-wide alarm system.

"My thought is to develop an air raid-like signal, similar to the ones during World War II," Della-Giustina said. "It would sound a siren, when the students would hear this, regardless of where they were, they would know to stay put and be on lock down.

Yet, despite new proposals, University officials have always had a plan for the instant disaster were to strike WVU.

If WVU were faced with the same situation that arose in Blacksburg, students would be urged to remain where they were and focus on protecting themselves.

In what Roberts called an active shooter situation, DPS members have been trained in a program called "Active Shooter," and a team is also trained in Rapid Response. To correspond with the DPS response, Morgantown Police Department, West Virginia State Police and Morgantown Fire Department also became involved in the situation.

In the Virginia Tech scenario, students and families were reunited at the alumni center in Blacksburg, but if the situation were to arise in Morgantown, that may not be the best protocol.

"If you look at WVU, there is no single road. We are an expansive town," Roberts said. "We work with Morgantown Police Department, and that is a benefit, to say that there is a central location is not what we are advocating."

The ideal plan would be for students and faculty to stay in place, secure doors and to wait for the green light.

After a traumatizing event, students are likely to need some kind of counseling to deal with the shocking aftermath.

"It's crisis counseling, and always you need to assess the student's concern, is there some sense of immediacy, friend or family involved," said Dr. Peter Kahn of the Carruth Center. "With any situation where there's been some kind of a loss, you want to sit with the person and let them talk freely and open up about it."

jon.offredo@mail.wvu.edu

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Original Source: The Daily Athenaeum
<a href="http://www.da.wvu.edu/show_article.php?&story_id=27578">http://www.da.wvu.edu/show_article.php?&story_id=27578</a>

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Jon Offredo

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2008-02-18

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Kacey Beddoes

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Leann Ray <Leann.Ray@mail.wvu.edu>

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eng

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Jon Offredo, "WVU looks at safety plans," in The April 16 Archive, Item #1704, http://april16archive.org/items/show/1704 (accessed October 22, 2014).