MSU prepares for active shooter situation

“Saving your life depends on what you do between when the shooting starts and when the police arrive,” University Police Chief Robert Putzke said during an open forum on MSU emergency operations last Thursday, Oct. 8.

During the forum, four panelists gave separate presentations on the campus’ preparedness for an emergency,  plus opening and closing remarks by President Waded Cruzado. The discussion aimed to prepare students “so our community can be aware of what is Montana State University is doing in terms of an emergency management plan.”

After Cruzado’s introduction, the first person to speak was Bob Lashaway, associate vice president of university services. During his presentation, he gave a history of emergency preparedness, drawing on examples like the flooding during Hurricane Katrina and the 9/11 attacks. “Universities in Lousiana had to recover from damage. They had to continue business operations and continue granting degrees and doing what they do; the business of the university had to continue,” Lashaway remarked. He also gave a report on MSU’s emergency preparedness, noting that before Cruzado’s term, the way the campus handled emergencies were “ad hoc.”

Director/Emergency Management Coordinator of the Office of Emergency Management Tara Moore, gave a detailed run-down of MSU’s emergency management plan (EMP). “This EMP provides general guidelines for responding to emergency events by activating decision processes, gathering decision makers and marshalling resources to address university emergencies,” Moore noted.

Dean of Students Matt Caires continued the forum with a report on safety and welfare of students and went over the welfare guide. “We know a lot about what is going on on our college campus,” Caires said. “One of the difficult things is how do we gather that information, how do we connect the dots, and how do we intervene to, hopefully, prevent tragedy?” He urged faculty and staff to review the student safety and welfare guide, which lists potential situations, like severe anxiety and sexual assault, and the proper response to them.

Putzke made a report on campus’ potential response to an active shooter. “MSU police instructors received cutting-edge training that includes national standards of advanced practice,” he said. Campus police have participated in “over 350 hours of training in active shooter alone” this year. He outlined how the police will respond to a situation: by stopping the shooter, securing the scene, and providing assistance to victims. It is important to note that the first officers to arrive are there to stop the shooters, not to provide first aid. The presentation portion of the forum ended with a showing of the “Run Hide Fight” video produced by Ready Houston, an emergency preparedness advocacy group, in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security. This six-minute video can be viewed online at youtube.com/watch?v=5VcSwejU2D0.
For more information and to see the EOP, please go to montana.edu/emergency.