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Thinking the unthinkable

Alert beacons throughout campus keep classrooms connected

“Do what you need to survive if the unthinkable happens” was the message delivered by Security Chief Marvin Gruber and Dean of Students Mardi McGuire-Closson during a program earlier this semester.

Alert beacons throughout campus keep classrooms connected
Alert beacons throughout campus keep classrooms connected

The program, held in College Center 166 on the Main campus, highlighted the reality of recent school shootings and how making critical decisions could save lives.

The program started with a video shot by the Wake Forest University police force, available on its website, which enacted a school shooting and realistically talked about how to prepare for the worst.

The video emphasized awareness, preparation and rehearsal.

What is the quickest way out of the building from this room?

Where can you hide in this room if a shooter were in the school?

Being aware of your surroundings is the key to a quick reaction.

Two scenarios that can occur are a hostage situation or an active shooter situation. The hostage situation will become apparent and in the video police advise patience and listening to all directions. The police are trying to deal with all demands and will need time.

The second situation, the active shooter, is one that requires a survival mindset. The three actions the video says to take are: get out, hide out, and take out.

Getting out safely is the first course of action. If you think you hear gunshots, the wisest thing to do is treat them as such. The police in the video say that most people have not heard real gunshots in their life and it is hard for them to identify them.

If you are leaving the building and encounter police, have your hands up and make sure you are showing you are not a threat. The first goal of police is to find the shooter so answer all police questions immediately and let them proceed.

If you cannot get out of the building, the next option is to hide. Try to secure yourself in the room by locking it and turning off the lights. Try to barricade the door with heavy items and only call police when it is safe to do so. The video emphasizes that you make sure you put your cellphones on silent.

Taking out the shooter is the worst-case scenario. The video states that if the shooter is entering the school and committing violence, it will not stop when he reaches your path. The fact is that the survival mindset needs to take over because you are protecting your life.

If you are in a room, trying to hide, make sure everyone is spread out. This creates harder targets for the shooter. Police advise to throw whatever you can at the intruder if he enters your room. Create confusion and hinder the attacker’s ability to fire. If the students outnumber the shooter, then taking him out is the only answer.

The rest of the NCC program was information about safety at the college. Alert beacons have been installed in every classroom. Those are the yellow boxes mounted on walls. If the building is locked down, the alert beacon can communicate vital information. It also has emergency buttons that enable students to communicate.

A range of new security features are in place at NCC in the past few years, Gruber said. Locks are now on every door. Alert beacons differ from building to building. The college now has the ability to lock down one building and evacuate others.

Always make sure you listen to the directions of the school.

If you see anything suspicious, don’t be afraid to tell someone.

“Trust your gut,” McGuire-Closson advised.

If you see anything suspicious, call Security at 610-861-5588, or use the Crime Tip Line at NCC at 610-861-4129. Tip Line callers can remain anonymous.