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UWS conducts active shooter response drills
Students and staff at UW-Superior were put to the test last week with “active shooter response drills” in each of its buildings. Joe Gigliotti reports.
(over intercom) “(Ding ding) I would like your attention please. We are about to conduct of the emergency response plan.”
That’s UWS Public Safety Director Gary Gulbrandson alerting people in Wessman Arena Friday that it was their turn in the school’s series of active shooter response drills. He says the Newtown tragedy played a big part in doing these drills.
“Safety is always of utmost consideration for Administration and Campus Safety, and I think that the tragic events of Sandy Hook drove home the fact that, technically, nobody’s safe anywhere.”
He says the drill response protocol is simple. “Follow the recommendations – RUN. If you can’t run, hide. If you can’t hide, you’re going to have to consider possibly fighting.”
Gulbrandson says the goal of the drills is to have students and staff aware and ready.
“If something were to happen, they would have an idea of how they could escape. If they can’t escape, if they would have an idea of what they would do next.”
The reactions to the drills have been mostly positive. “We’ve had a lot of people who thanked us for putting these drills on.”
But Facilities Director Tom Fennessy says there are concerns, too.
“We need to change out some room locks so we can lock them quicker. We need to look at exit doors, lights; how do you shut some of these lights off that have occupancy censors?”
And students need to know what to do. Many didn’t. Senior Jessica Schubring says her Swenson Hall drill was startling and confusing.
“It was pretty terrifying. I didn’t know where to go, then finally the lady in the office over here said “c’mon over, quick, quick, quick, quick.” We were told to be quiet, and we covered up the windows and anything else a shooter could come in and see.”
Senior Veronica Effinger had a similar experience during the Fine Arts Building drill. “We went into a downstairs room, and we weren’t really aware of the goings on of the day, so, I don’t know, we didn’t actually follow the practices that were necessarily supposed to be there.”
Effinger’s concerned that not taking the drills seriously lessens the value of the effort. “If people don’t treat it the way they should be treated, it loses importance itself.”
The school will hold an open discussion on the drill later this month.
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