PROACTIVE: A video posted on the Saddleback Police Department website demonstrates how to deal with an active-shooter situation. (Screenshot)
In the Las Vegas shooting earlier this month, a 64-year-old male opened fire from his hotel room onto a crowd of over 22,000 concert goers on Sunday Oct. 1 which left 59 people dead, including himself and more than 500 people injured. This sharply reminds us that emergencies happen at any time without warning and preparation is key.
The Saddleback College Police Department wants its students, faculty and staff prepared to handle any type of emergency and subsequently presented a revamped Emergency Preparedness Plan specific to the college community.
“People who have plans, prepare, assess the situation and then act decisively tend to have a higher degree of survival in life threatening events,” Saddleback College Police Operations Lt. Michael Betzler said. “These concepts do not just apply to active shooters but natural disasters, fires, plane crashes, accidents and just about every other possible scenario you can imagine.”
Substitute Emergency Business Community Manager Todd DeVoe overhauled the Emergency Preparedness Plan so that it would be more specific and current to Saddleback College.
Natural disasters, mechanical failures and man-made crisis make up the different types of emergencies the college could encounter. Man-made problems include riots, a nuclear attack or active shooter.
“I would encourage people to view the “Run, Hide, Fight” video www.Saddleback.edu/police and honestly ask themselves what they would do under a wide variety of scenarios,” Betzler said.
DeVoe said after “Run, Hide, Fight”, then Treat. Lives are saved in tragedies when lay people, a non-trained person provides medical attention to others during a crisis situation.
“There is a new push to get people to treat,” DeVoe said.
DeVoe said tourniquets have proven successful in recent tragedies like Las Vegas to help save lives. Companies like North American Rescue, which sell small tactical medical kits, are gaining popularity in workplaces and similar environments.
What people do before first responders arrive is critical to their survival.
“We encourage people to get behind a locked door,” Betlzer said. “Statistically, if there’s a locked door barrier between you and an active shooter, your chances for survival are very, very good.”
Since the shooting, SCPD has made a conscious choice to increase security and have a more visible presence on campus. Betzler said they have reminded their staff of the tactics in dealing with such an incident and will continue to receive ongoing training.
“We train and work closely with our other first responder partners at the Orange County Fire Authority, Orange County Sheriff’s Department and others,” Betzler said.
SCPD actively patrols on campus, gets to know students and finds out what is happening on campus.
“We try and get in front of the problems and, so especially when we talk about things like active shooters we get involved in mental health issues, care issues ahead of time to try and get people assistance and help and be part of the solution before it’s a true law enforcement issue problem,” Betzler said.
Saddleback College Police Department prepares the best they can through training, patrolling and vigilance.
DeVoe, who dealt with a mass shooting previously, said he never wants to encounter anything like that ever again. As the first medic to arrive on the scene after a mass shooting at a salon in Seal Beach in 2011, he stresses the need for people to speak up.
“If you feel something about somebody and it just doesn’t feel right, say something,” DeVoe said.
SCPD encourages the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign. www.Dhs.gov/see-something-say-something/if-you-see-something-say-something-video-drop-30-second-public.
DeVoe said he wants people to feel comfortable to go to the campus police station to report something.
With tensions rising with North Korea, nuclear blast preparation is another possible threat. Visit www.Ready.gov/nuclear-blast.
“Life safety first, property second. You can always rebuild a building, you can’t ever re-build a life,” DeVoe said.
Betzler said if a fire started on campus, immediate evacuation of the impacted area and assessment of the air quality would take place.
When it comes to the protection of a personal residence, Firefighter and Paramedic Michael Deweese of OCFA www.OCFA.org said he wants people to look at defensible space, leave when fire and police authorities ask and remember to get everything out of the house that is precious in the event of an evacuation.
Mechanical failures can include power outages and utility failures.
“Recently in the last couple of weeks we shut down the campus for the afternoon because of a water main break,” Betzler said.
He said the water main break shut down water on campus which can lead to bigger problems for the fire sprinklers in the buildings, heating and cooling units, access to drinking water and toilets, which all require water, so, it becomes a health and safety issue.
In the event of an earthquake, people are encouraged to Stop, Drop and Hold. www.Saddleback.edu/uploads/police/shakeout_recommended_earthquake_safety_actions.pdf
“I encourage everybody, if you have a first aid kit, disaster kit at home, that’s great. Maybe take a look at it and make sure its up to date. If you don’t have one, maybe take at building one,” DeVoe said.
To prepare for any disaster, individuals are encouraged to have an emergency supply at home, work and their car. For a recommended list of supplies, go to: www.Fema.gov/media-library-data/1390846764394-dc08e309debe561d866b05ac84daf1ee/checklist_2014.pdf
“We actually have what they call CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) and we have some faculty and staff that are trained as CERT responders,” DeVoe said.
Social media and Facebook are great tools to help reunite loved ones in a major emergency. Register at www.Alertoc.com to receive alerts on your phone during an emergency in Orange County.
“You can increase your ability to survive a major incident through preparation,” Betzler said.
Saddleback College will participate in a statewide earthquake drill, The Great California Shakeout www.Shakeout.org/california/ on Thursday Oct. 19 at 10:19 a.m.