Emergency Drill at University Campus Builds Confidence

May 18, 2012

EmergencyDrill_1An emergency drill at University Campus allowed Saint Leo University’s Office of Campus Security and Safety, in conjunction with area law enforcement and medical rescue personnel, to test how well the campus would respond to a number of simulated threatening situations. The exercise demonstrated that University Campus has been well-equipped with communications apparatus, security cameras and related systems, and practices needed in times of emergency. “It tested all the things we’ve been investing in,” said Robert Sullivan, executive director of campus security and safety, “and they worked well."

The University Campus has previously performed tests of broadcast emergency messages, but before this exercise had not had an opportunity to perform a drill with participation from the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office and Pasco County Fire and Rescue. Sullivan and the security department scripted a scenario in which a deranged individual starts shooting on campus, necessitating help from the sheriff’s tactical weapons team and its bomb squad, as well as medical first responders. Volunteers from campus acted in the roles of perpetrators and victims.

Sullivan explained that Saint Leo has no reason to anticipate any violent episodes, but wanted to include such scenarios in the drill so that emergency personnel could practice a full range of skills, and could practice working together at University Campus. The lessons learned from such training can often be applied to many problematic situations where violence is not a factor, but where teams would need to respond at a moment’s notice, say to locate building floor plans or to issue warnings that people should take shelter immediately. “The Blackboard emergency notification system and other responses would be used for the onset of inclement weather, hazardous spills, or tornadic activity,” Sullivan noted.

All the agencies involved gathered for a debriefing on campus immediately after the Wednesday morning drill. Additionally, all the organizations––including Saint Leo––are conducting detailed reviews of their individual performances for their respective needs. Sullivan noted that Saint Leo has the advantage of having on the criminal justice faculty at University Campus Dr. Eloy Nunez, an expert in the handling of disaster situations and drills. Dr. Nunez shadowed the Office of Campus Security and Safety to add an additional level of expertise to the lifelike simulation.