Wednesday, April 23, 2014

UVU plans campus shooting simulation Tuesday

By Madeleine Brown, Deseret News

Published: Mon, Dec. 16 6:35 p.m. MST

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An "active shooter" will be on Utah Valley University campus Tuesday afternoon as part of a simulation to prepare for the possibility of a real-life shooting.

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

OREM — An "active shooter" will be on Utah Valley University campus Tuesday as part of a simulation to prepare for the possibility of a real-life shooting.

Under the UVU president's directive, UVU Emergency Management and other campus departments for months have been planning an active-shooter exercise, which will take place in the Browning Administration Building from about 3 to 6 p.m.

The university’s main entrance and business offices in the administration building will be closed during the exercise.

“We want to be as prepared as possible and coordinate with our community partners so we can continue to provide a safe, secure environment for our students, faculty and staff,” Robin Ebmeyer, director of emergency risk management at UVU, said in a prepared statement.

A notice was posted on the school bulletin and signs were placed on the building, but some students didn't know about the shooting drill until a campus-wide email was sent around 3 p.m. Monday.

Students Dallin Wilkes, a junior, and Erik Price, a sophomore, both hadn’t heard about the simulation until they were asked about it earlier Monday.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea because nobody knows about it,” Wilkes said. “If I thought somebody was shooting, I would be concerned. … I think they should have let the students know.”

However, Ebmeyer clarified in an interview that participants will be involved voluntarily. During the shooting simulation, UVU police will keep students and employees from inadvertently entering the building.

Ebmeyer said she expects about 100 employees and 50 to 60 volunteer students to be involved in the drill, as well as the university's president.

"We’ve taken a lot of precautions to keep the participants safe and to keep people who may not know about it out," Ebmeyer said.

The building will be shut down at 3 p.m., and security sweeps of the building and its inhabitants will be performed prior to a briefing. Then a "gunman" will enter the building and shoot blanks, and events will unfold as they would in a real-life situation.

"You will hear it, you will smell it, you will see it, and you’ll need to react, and it’ll be interesting to see what they do," Ebmeyer said. "It'll be a little bit of an unsettling experience for people but in a very controlled environment."

Some university community members have expressed worries about the drill — its psychological effects and its timing. Ebmeyer said she’s heard about a petition against it and concerns about the fact that it’s occuring during finals week.

She said the main concern has been that someone ignorant of the situation could wander into the building, especially if the person has a concealed weapon. However, she said, that is extremely unlikely.

While the exercise is meant to be as real as possible, some campus mental health professionals will be on hand to meet with anyone involved who experiences psychological distress.

Administration staff were notified in advance of the drill and allowed to opt out, according to Jack Jensen, a psychologist and the director of psychological services at UVU.

He said he's concerned the drill is happening during final exams, but he said the “vast majority” of people involved won’t be traumatized. Those who have experienced previous trauma dealing with guns are more likely to be distressed.

“We’ve been asked as a therapy group to have counselors on site, so we’re going to provide counselors over there … to meet with whoever needs to be met with,” he said.

Because of the location, Jensen said, the drill will be mostly isolated from the students, and most students probably won’t know it’s happening.

“I think just because of circumstance and the situation, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Jensen said. “We can rely on our preparation and it’s much easier to deal with than if we go into it blindly and naively. Of course, we pray and hope that his will never happen, but you never know.”

Email: madbrown@deseretnews.com

Twitter: @madeleine6

Recommended
1. Country Lawyer
Falmouth, MA,
Dec. 17, 2013

So, Bubba's been down South fishin' the past few weeks, on vacation from his job washing dishes in the dining commons, and returns just in time to see this "active shooter" playacting like he's trying to kill people. Bubba doesn't know this, so it looks to him like the chance he's been waiting for, packing that concealed pistol under his work smock the past ten years. So he shoots and kills the active shooter in "self defense," expecting he's gonna be some kinda hero, but . . . . It can't be murder, but up here in Massachusetts it would be manslaughter. Out there, who knows? Maybe he gets off twice. One while shooting someone, and then for doing it.

2. cjb
Bountiful, UT,
Dec. 17, 2013

Years ago I remember reading about a 'police training' bank robbery during bank business hours when the bank was actually open. A civilian pulled out a gun and ordered the robber to cease. Then it had to be explained to him this was a training exercise.

I trust adequate warning has and will be given out at the time of this simulation so a similar thing doesn't happen then.

3. bricha
lehi, ut,
Dec. 17, 2013

Let's just hope that the innocent bystander takes the time to order the robber to cease, and doesn't just shoot.

I am sorry but doing these kind of things just don't seem all that smart, especially during finals week. The students are already stressed enough!

4. JimInSLC
Salt Lake City, UT,
Dec. 17, 2013

UVU students DO NOT go to campus on this day!

9/11/2001, there was a drill going on the same day.
UK subway bombing, there was a similar drill going on the same day.
Sandy Hook Shooting, there was a similar drill going on the same day.
Boston Marathon Bombing, there was a similar drill going on the same day.

"There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again." —President George W. Bush, Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002

5. UtahBruin
Saratoga Springs, UT,
Dec. 17, 2013

Wouldn't it be wise to maybe do this over Christmas break when the students are gone, and as one poster said, not when it is finals week and students are at their peak of pressure. This is all so lame, like this would really help in a real situation. Things change per the circumstance. In the military we train, in the field we brief as every situation is/was different.