Recent events such as the threat of an active shooter on campus last fall and the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, have inspired changes to handle emergencies at the SCCC Ammerman campus.
I sat down with Executive Dean Wesley Lundburg to find out more.
Lundburg, a former Coast Guardsman, said he is taking what he learned during his service to help this campus. He said a big focus would be drilling.
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“When you have drilling, you have muscle memory. You can’t have people rely on a placard on the side of the doorway, that they go to and say, ‘Oh, what am I supposed to do?’” Lundburg said. “You need to get them to a place where they just automatically know what to do.”
Talks of change have been happening since an Oct. 30 incident in which an active shooter was thought to be on campus. It was quickly found that the student was carrying two toys guns as part of a Halloween costume. But the recent Parkland shooting has lit the fire.
The administration has brought Associative Dean Dave Bergan from the Eastern campus on board to help with the plans for change.
On March 13, a Professional Development Day was scheduled, during which faculty staff would receive emergency preparedness training. That was canceled due to inclement weather and has been rescheduled for April 6.
Lundburg said the Oct. 30 incident was a huge learning experience for the campus. The college was able to pinpoint exactly what needs to be improved. The biggest component is communication, he said.
As for current campus-wide communication, a PA system is in place throughout the hallways of the buildings on campus. NY Alert, a statewide emergency alert and notification system that the college uses to alert students in the event of an emergency, is a big part of that. There is an effort to switch over to Shark Alerts, a similar program that’s focused on SCCC.
The current PA system used on Oct. 30 sends out alerts in two parts. A lack of communication caused only half of the system to send out an alert to the campus of the threat. The system operator who was told to send out the alert sent it to the first half of the system and then was told not to send the alert because police were already on the way.
Because of the lack of proper communication, only half the campus was alerted that there was an emergency.
Currently, public safety is pricing out options for a PA system that will be outdoors. Speakers outside will be able to reach more people in the event of an emergency. Lundburg is not sure how much that would cost.
The change will not be happening overnight, but the ball is rolling for an improvement of safety at the Ammerman campus.
“There hasn’t been resistance… it’s just there are a lot of priorities and things get kind of shoved aside,” Lundburg said.