’Shots Fired’ training focuses on personal safety

If someone wielding a gun walks into your building, would you try to: a) get out of the building right away; b) find a safe place to hide; or c) confront the person? The correct answer actually depends on the circumstances. And key to quickly evaluating the situation and determining the best response is a survival mindset – one in which you take responsibility for your personal safety.

That’s the message Officers from the Department of Public Safety are giving during training sessions to groups, departments, and residence communities throughout the campus over the past two years.

The training, Shots Fired on Campus, is part of Carolina’s ongoing campus safety efforts. It is based on a DVD called “Shots Fired: When Lightning Strikes” that was produced by the Center for Personal Protection and Safety. The training is available for any campus group that requests it.

Since April 2009, Public Safety has conducted hundreds of sessions for faculty, staff and students.

“It is so important for people on our campus to think about safety issues long before an incident occurs,” said Sgt. Megan Howard, UNC crime prevention officer. “That way, everyone will know what to do in an emergency and avoid the panic and confusion that often occurs when people are unprepared.”

What you should do

  • Assess what is happening and get out of the room or area right away if you can, he said. If you are walking outside, keep walking and find protection.
  • Once out of harm’s way, call 911 to let the police know what is going on.
  • If you are unable to get out, you should hide out – but not in a place in which you could be trapped. Lock the door, be quiet and mute your cell phone.
  • Make sure you spread out so everyone is not gathered in a small space. That makes it too easy for a shooter to target a lot of people, he said.
  • If you are in the same room as a shooter, you might have to confront the person. (If you do, however, become more aggressive than ever: throw things at the shooter, yell, whatever it takes. Tell yourself, “I will survive.”
  • When law enforcement officials arrive on the scene, be compliant and calmly provide details. Raise your hands, spread your fingers and drop to the floor. Don’t run toward the police officers.
  • If you are in a hostage situation, you should not be aggressive. Instead, be patient and compliant and let the police negotiate.

Why training is important

The training is designed to help people be prepared, not fearful, Howard said.

It is analogous to airline passengers being told about emergency exits and oxygen masks before the plane takes off – not because the pilot expects to crash, but because people can react more quickly when they know beforehand what to do.

For information about the DVD, refer to cpps.com/video-training.

Personal safety and emergency sirens

The Shots Fired on Campus training teaches that if you hear something that even remotely sounds like it could be gunfire, assume it is and act accordingly. At that point, the emergency siren instructions to stay where you are do not apply. You should adopt a survival mindset and follow the “get out, hide out or fight it out” steps outlined in the training. See the information above for details about the training.

“Silent Storm” and “Flashpoint” Personal Safety Training

New Video Presentations Focus on Acts of Personal Violence

DPS seeks enhance the overall quality of life of the UNC community through educational programs and activities where the university and police work in partnership. To these ends, new instructive videos provide officers with new tools to fulfill these goals:

  • “Silent Storm-Intimate Partner Violence and Stalking: The Impact on the Workplace;” and
  • “Flashpoint on Campus-Recognizing and Preventing Violence on Campus.”

These new programs are now combined with the existing programs (“Shots Fired” and “See Something, Say Something”) to form our Violence Awareness Program. Additionally, the two new videos are available through LT Carmon in the Community Services Unit and will also be available for viewing on the Intranet by students, faculty, and staff.

Flashpoint on Campus” helps students better understand campus violence and identify warning signs.  It can be previewed online.

The “Silent Storm” video provides awareness of intimate partner violence and abuse.  It can be previewed online.

To request training from UNC Police, contact Sgt. James David at (919) 966-3230 or dhjames@email.unc.edu.