By Gavin Arucan | Staff Writer
On September 8 at around 9 a.m., students and faculty of UH Mānoa received an alarming email alerting them about an armed person possibly heading to the college campus. Despite this, UH did not call for a lock-down or evacuation, and the day continued normally.
The email alert provided helpful information such as a description of the suspect’s vehicle and other helpful tips; however, some students felt that more could have been done to ensure their safety. While the email alert was sent out to inform students of a possible situation and police were on the scene, it only makes sense that students will worry for their well-being.
Unfortunately, the number of school shootings has increased over the last few years. According to Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, there were 64 school related shootings last year alone; 31 of those took place on college or university campuses. Dangerous situations can occur at any time and at any place, so it’s best to be prepared.
In the case of the possible shooter at UH Manoa, KCC was in no immediate danger and did not need to alert students of the situation. But, if a similar situation were to occur on KCC’s campus, Brian Furuto, the Vice Chancellor of Administrative Services at KCC who also oversees security, has several protocols in place to protect people on campus.
According to Furuto, if an armed person is reported on or near KCC’s campus, security will be the first to respond. It is security’s job to observe the situation and gather as much information as possible. Security will relay that information, including a description and the location of the possible shooter, to the police as soon as they arrive. The police will then utilize that information to resolve the situation as quickly, efficiently, and safely as possible.
Just like UH Manoa, KCC will send out alerts via email to students and staff warning them of the emergency. The email alerts will continue to be sent out until as long as the armed person remains at large. The alerts are also sent out in case of other, less threatening emergencies such as power outages.
KCC advises everyone to check their UH emails constantly to stay updated on any situations that may occur. However, not all students check their email that often. If you are one of those people, it is recommended that you sign up for UH alerts via text messaging on the University of Hawai‘i website to be immediately alerted about emergencies. Aside from watching out for alerts, students should always be aware of their surroundings. It’s important to know at least two nearby exits in every building you go to.
UH security, in the email alert to its students, provided all of its campuses with three tips on how to protect yourself in the event a shooter comes onto the campus. In that situation, you should do one of these things: run, hide, or, as a last resort, fight. These tips are sent out along with the UH alert emails in an emergency.
The alerts advise people to try to have a clear and safe escape route in mind when running. Remember, there may be other people following you in an attempt to escape. Some people might not know the campus layout that well, so you should try to help them find a safe escape path. Of course, you should leave any belongings that might hinder your running ability behind. If you encounter a police officer, do not distract him or her. Remain calm and do everything the officer tells you to do.
If you are unable to escape, hiding is the next best option, according to the UH alerts. Make your way to the nearest room if you are not in one already and lock yourself inside the room. Barricade the door with any heavy objects nearby, such as desks or cabinets, and pull the blinds or shades on any window down. Find something sturdy to hide behind, but be sure to keep away from the windows and stay quiet until the situation is handled. To be safe, silence your cell phone while hiding, but if it’s possible, call the police at 911 to alert them of the shooter. If you can’t safely talk, leave the line open for the dispatcher to listen in.
However, there may be a situation in which both running and hiding is impossible. If no other options are available, the UH alerts advise that you should resort to fighting the shooter. This is a very critical predicament, so you should not hesitate to attack the shooter before he can harm you or anyone nearby. Be as aggressive as possible and utilize your surroundings. Any heavy item such as chairs, books, and fire extinguishers can be used as weapons to defend yourself. You will have a greater chance of incapacitating the shooter if you work with others nearby. Remember, the alert reminds you, there is strength in numbers.
Even if an emergency of that magnitude never happens at KCC, your safety is still of the utmost importance. If you ever feel unsafe or threatened on campus, contact KCC security immediately. Either call campus security at 808-734-9900, or go to one of the security offices either on the first floor of the Ohia building or on the second floor of the Lama Library. If you need help working through personal problems, you may contact your counselor or Brenda Ivelisse, the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs.
To sign up for UH text message alerts, click here.
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