Print Edition: June 4, 2014
With the exception of security and police officers in orange reflective vests handing out flyers to students, it was business as usual in G building. At 10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 28, UFV held its first-ever lockdown drill.
As students entered the building shortly before the drill to purchase coffee and bagels from Tim Hortons or to study and make photocopies in the library, officers let them know there would be a shelter-in-place drill in the building.
On the first side of the flyer entitled “Exercise Active Shooter on Campus,” students were advised that “once the exercise has started, all building occupants will be expected to seek the nearest shelter until receiving the ‘All Clear’ notification.” The announcement would be made over megaphone.
On the reverse was a list of instructions: the dos and don’ts of lockdown procedure. One of these was to stay away from windows and doors. A quick glance around G building reveals this is no easy feat. Where is the best place to go? One officer responded that the best location will depend on where you are and where the emergency is happening.
“There’s no black-and-white answer. If something were to happen [in the hallway] the exit might be the best option,” he said.
At the University of Alberta, the campus Alberta risk and assurance committee (CARA) took a different approach to informing students. Only a few days after the shooting near the University of California at Santa Barbara, CARA released a video on Youtube called “Shooter on Campus: Know you Can Survive.” The video has been described as “chilling,” but contains practical advice for what to do as well as a realistic enactment of an active shooter scenario. A police officer at the beginning of the video notes these situations are rare.
“The likelihood you will ever encounter this type of situation is extremely remote. In fact, you are more likely to be struck by lightning than be the target of an active shooter,” she says.
On the first floor of the UFV library, there didn’t appear to be many students actively participating in the drill. No one using the computers near the main entrance made an effort to hide or move away when the lights were turned off and it was announced the exercise had begun. Students at workstations against the back wall of windows didn’t move either. Officers did approach these students to encourage their participation in the drill, explaining what they should do in an emergency lockdown.
Director of security and emergency management Brian Leonard estimated some 50 students were present during the exercise, and noted more drills would follow.
“The shelter-in-place exercise is the first in a series that will be rolled out over time as part of the emergency management exercise program,” he explained. “Shelter-in-place drills could be held in a single building or multiple buildings; it depends on the goals that are established for the exercise.”