UIndy plans for emergencies

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Disasters can arise at any time and any place and whenever they do arise, it is always best to have a plan. In case such an incident does emerge, the University of Indianapolis has contingency plans that cover a wide range of incidents, such as fires, tornadoes, power outages, bomb threats and active aggressors. 

If an emergency does happen on campus, Kory Vitangeli, vice president for student and campus affairs and dean of students, said she advises students, faculty, and staff to react calmly, pay attention to Watchdog alerts and comply with requests if they are asked to go to a different location. She said she wants students to know that there is a team of people assessing the emergency situation and figuring out how to proceed.

In the case of a fire, students, faculty and staff should calmly evacuate through the nearest emergency exit, according to the emergency desktop guide that can be found on myUIndy. When evacuating, students and faculty should not use any elevators and instead use the stairs. If there is smoke, crouch down to the ground and move towards the exit. 

If there is a tornado, students, faculty and staff are to take shelter underground and stay away from windows. If outside, one should find the nearest building or sunken area of ground. Students and faculty should avoid taking shelter in auditoriums or gymnasiums, according to the emergency desktop guide. 

In the case of a technological disaster, such as a power outage, students, faculty and staff should remain calm and find an area with emergency lights. Usually, the power is restored quickly and evacuation is not needed, according to the emergency desktop guide. However, in the event an evacuation is required, students and faculty should stand by for evacuation instructions from emergency personnel. The emergency desktop guide advises students and faculty to have a small flashlight in case of a power outage.

If there is an active aggressor, students, faculty and staff should follow lockdown procedures. If in a room, lock all doors and windows and stay calm. If a building or campus lockdown occurs, where all students, faculty and staff are moved into buildings, stay inside the building until the lockdown is over. 

Students, staff and faculty can also assess the situation and follow the Run, Hide, Fight response if there is an active aggressor. If there is an escape route, leave all belongings and run to the nearest exit with hands in the air to signal to police you are not a threat. If hiding is an option, hide away from the aggressor’s sight, silence all cell phones, and block the entry to the hiding place. The fight option should only be used as a last resort, but if it is the only option left, try to incapacitate the aggressor.  

If there is a bomb threat, let an instructor or supervisor know immediately and do not try to find the device. Students, faculty and staff are to take all bomb threats seriously and follow police instructions in case of evacuation. 

In the case of bomb threats, students, faculty and staff should let UIndy Police know by calling (317) 788-3333 or dial 3333 from a campus phone. In the case of an active aggressor, call 911 immediately. 

Chief of Police and Director of Campus Security David Selby says reporting emergencies is important and if an emergency is happening, alert the police right away.

“If you see a fire, if something’s going on, you need to call [the police],” Selby said. “If there’s an emergency, [call] 911 [and] get ahold of us. The struggle we have is I’ll get an email that said, ‘Hey, you know, a week ago, I saw this person in a parking lot and they were acting really strange.’ That’s a little too late. We need to be told when something’s happening.”

Watchdog is mostly used to alert students, faculty and staff to a threat or incident on campus, according to Vitangeli. However, emergency beacons placed throughout campus and Alertus desktop notifications are also used to alert students and faculty to an emergency on campus. In addition, according to Selby, a speaker outside Schwitzer Student Center which looks like a birdhouse has also been implemented to alert students and faculty to disasters. 

All of UIndy’s plans for emergencies can be found on the myUIndy homepage under the Protect UIndy/Public Safety button. There, students, faculty and staff can find information such as rally points and members of emergency control committees for each building in case of an evacuation, a comprehensive emergency management plan and other resources. 

“We hope that there’s a lot of great information out on the police channel of the myUIndy site,” Vitangeli said. “If people want more information about our emergency plans and lots of tips for how to handle emergencies, we certainly would refer people to that because the more prepared people are, and just knowing the information, the better we’ll all be during any situation that we have to deal with.”

While UIndy Police talks about this information at events such as at freshman orientation, Selby advises students to look at and educate themselves on these plans online.

“We used to try to get a lot of information out to [the] public safety website,” Selby said. “Students come to school and they’re so busy and they count on all of us to keep them safe, which we take seriously too. But, I think getting the word out that that information is there for you if you want to look at it.”

Emergency plans allow the university to be proactive in planning for scenarios, Vitangeli said. In addition, it is important to identify people on campus who can figure out how the campus should move forward, she said. 

“At the end of the day, we have to keep the university running no matter what happens,” Vitangeli said. “We have to keep our campus community safe, that’s our number one priority.”

Graphic by Tony Reeves

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