Safety is our top priority

[media-credit name=”Courtesy of UW Oshkosh” align=”alignleft” width=”240″]Chancellor Andrew Leavitt[/media-credit]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By: Chancellor Andrew Leavitt

 

Less than two weeks ago, another United States campus suffered a tragedy. Eleven people were injured at Ohio State University at the hands of a student, resulting in the death of the attacker. This incident—different from many incidents of campus violence—is a reminder of the importance of being prepared.

At UW Oshkosh, we are constantly working toward creating a safe environment for our students, faculty, staff and visitors. This past semester has had a more focused effort to enhance our campus readiness for emergency situations. As seen with Ohio State, we never know exactly what might happen; therefore we need to be prepared to respond to any incident.

University Police Chief Kurt Leibold is leading UWO’s efforts to build a new and comprehensive emergency response program that will provide protocol for a range of incidents. Extreme weather is a hazard we experience regularly and need to prepare and practice for. Other hazards include infectious disease outbreaks, active shooters and technological outages. A tornado or winter storm may put our campus community in harm’s way. A massive technology outage could put our ability to operate in jeopardy. The least likely, yet most feared, incidents involve violence on campus. These incidents require an immediate and methodical response where proper communication can save lives.

While our campus is prepared today to react to any incident, the strength of an emergency planning program comes from its training and regularly practiced exercises. Additional training is underway for emergency response personnel, including the gold standard in emergency response training from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). A training program is also in development for all University staff.

Additionally, the broader UWO community needs education and training to be prepared to respond. Students can prepare themselves by being aware of the nearest exit in each of their classrooms. During an active incident, individuals need to follow directions and stay safe. At Ohio State, there were reports of people gathering around the scene while the “shelter in place” was still active. That means people were potentially putting themselves and emergency responders in danger.

If a situation arises on campus, we need to come together as a community and we need to know what to do. I am committed to doing all I can to keep UWO safe, and to prepare us if something happens. By drawing on the expertise of those on our campus to build a comprehensive emergency planning program, we will be able to quickly and appropriately respond to any crisis situation and keep our community safe. Stay connected through emergency.uwosh.edu to learn more about the tools we have in place today. Also look for a new safety app for mobile devices to be launched in the coming months.