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Emergency action plans: obsolete or helpful

Columbine. Virginia Tech. University of Texas at Austin.

All three of these schools bring back memories of tragedies from the past. People needlessly killed for no reason. Police and SWAT teams acted quickly to try to stop these incidents from escalating, but people were still murdered. Although they are made with good intentions, are emergency action plans the best way to reach out to students in times of trouble?

One problem UT Austin had with the recent shooting was that nobody knew what the emergency action plan was and didn’t know how to spread the word to the students and faculty. One student said that his teacher let the class leave instead of keeping them in the classroom where it was safe. Luckily the gunman didn’t hurt anyone before he killed himself in one of the campus libraries. However, if he was intent on hurting others, knowing the emergency action plan could have been the difference between life and death.

Virginia Tech became a deadly scene due to the police assuming the gunman left the campus after he killed two students in a dorm and not alerting the rest of the campus. The police didn’t shut down the campus or send out alerts because they thought the situation was a domestic dispute and that the gunman wasn’t coming back. Because of that assumption, 31 additional people were killed, including the gunman, in the largest school massacre in the nation’s history. Making assumptions is like playing Russian Roulette in a situation like that. You’re either right or in this case, very wrong.

Columbine High School was a scary scene back in 1999. Two students went on a killing spree eventually killing 13 people before they each committed suicide. They also injured 21 others. After the shooting, the SWAT team was put under fire because many stated that they responded too slowly to the situation. Because of the shooting at Columbine, many changes have been made to security procedures as well as emergency action plans. After Columbine, it was common to see clear backpacks, metal detectors and IDs as part of the new security measures. Columbine is now used as an example for training SWAT teams and police forces around the country.

Violence like this can occur anywhere including junior colleges. In 2008, a shooting happened at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix, Ariz. Rodney Smith and Isaac Smith confronted each other in the computer lab after a verbal argument erupted. Rodney Smith pulled out a handgun and shot Isaac Smith and two innocent people. Smith was arrested and booked for aggravated assault, endangerment, and

misconduct involving weapons. He’s still in jail awaiting trial.

Due to all of the recent college shootings, some colleges are implementing shooting drills to go along with other safety measures such as fire drills. However, according to our safety poll as well as other polls from schools around the country, students still don’t feel safe no matter what measures are being taken.

There is not much in this world that we can control but there are ways to be safer. TJC has addressed the safety issue be adding more lights around campus, panic buttons, security cameras and trimming around overgrown shrubs and trees.

As students, we have to have a certain amount of faith and trust in the college that we will be safe. There is only so much that we can do in case of an emergency. When it comes to a shooting, no one knows when or where it will happen except the shooter and that makes it hard for students to plan ahead to protect themselves and stay safe. Colleges have these emergency action plans in place and we have to trust that they will work. We have no control.

With security plans in place and the safety of college campuses in question, students are still wondering how safe are we?


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