by Kaitlyn Thompson
On Friday, March 16, WVU Parkersburg’s Safety Committee conducted an active shooter drill. An active shooter drill is a safety drill that takes place to train employees and local first responders on what to do in an actual active shooter situation and to evaluate the college’s safety procedures in emergency situations.
Katie Wootton, Director of Marketing and Communications and co-chair of the safety committee, works alongside Maintenance Director, Dave White, to coordinate these drills every one or two years. Wootton and White involve local police agencies, fire departments, Westbrook Health Services and other local organizations to take part in the drill.
With school shootings becoming a top concern across the country, Wootton and the rest of the WVU Parkersburg staff take these drills seriously.
“While we can never really know how a real-life disaster would play out, it is important to familiarize the campus community with safety procedures and evaluate our communications processes. We always learn ways to improve processes each time we have these drills,” Wootton said.
Active shooter drills are beneficial to students and staff because if this type of situation should occur in the future, the college and those within it will know what to do. Two benefits for students and employees is they are more prepared for this type of emergency while on campus, they feel safer and more secure, and it also gives the faculty an opportunity to learn and improve on the college’s emergency response.
“One year, we learned that people were unable to hear announcements over the loud speaker if they were in certain parts of the building,” Wootton said. “We’d rather learn these things during a drill than in a real emergency.”
Even though the drill happened over spring break, those on campus were asked to take part in and react as if the situation were real. Wootton shared the campus’ preparation tips that can educate students on how to be ready should this situation happen. “Run, Hide, Fight” is the response WVU Parkersburg informs the campus to practice. This “moto” or exercise advises individuals to react to the situation as they feel is necessary, depending on where they and the shooter are located on campus.
This safety drill took place to educate and prepare employees and students should this emergency arise in the future. Practicing drills such as this can prepare people for situations such as this on campus or even at the store. WVU Parkersburg recognizes the need for safety drills and strives to complete these practices every one or two years.
“We just want students to know that it is the college’s goal to ensure the safety of its students,” Wootton said.