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Bemidji State University has terrorism plan in place

The Bemidji State University Department of Security and Safety outlines protocols for a wide range of emergencies from fire to severe weather and terrorism.

The Bemidji State University Department of Security and Safety outlines protocols for a wide range of emergencies from fire to severe weather and terrorism.

Monday's tragic shootings at Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg, Va., is a reminder that terrorism plans must be in place.

"We have a campus emergency plan," said Rosie Jones, BSU director of communication and marketing. "There is a part of the plan that addresses what we would do with an armed intruder. We'd have a multi-pronged response to that emergency."

Initially, the response would be to notify everyone of the danger through the emergency director of each building, by e-mail and on the Internet.

"No one response method or alert method is reliable," Jones said.

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Bill Macki, BSU vice president for finance and administration, is also responsible for the Department of Security and Safety. He said the university also has a calling tree set up to disseminate information in case of a crisis.

"It hits close to home when it's another university," he said. "A tragic situation like this is a moment we review our procedures ... take a look at ourselves and prevent similar things from happening."

Macki said students are allowed to bring firearms on campus, generally for hunting, but all guns have to be cased and unloaded and taken directly from a vehicle to a secure weapons storage facility.

He explained that the BSU emergency plan is structured by buildings, each of which has an emergency coordinator and a back-up coordinator.

An armed intruder would also constitute a Level 3 emergency, one that would involve the entire campus and surrounding community.

The Bemidji Department of Public Safety has developed an Emergency Response Team that would respond to any reported threats of terrorism at Bemidji State University. The team would work closely with the campus Emergency Management Team in response to any terrorist act perpetrated on campus.

BSU has also developed a mail screening policy to deal with any suspicious mail or packages.

Response guidelines

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When an armed violent individual or individuals are observed in an academic or administrative area on campus, faculty and staff should immediately lock students and themselves in the classroom or office and cover any windows or openings that have a direct line of sight into the hallway. If a campus telephone is available, they would dial 9-911 or 911 on a cell phone.

Those not in an office or classroom should try to take shelter in one as quickly as possible and stay there until they are notified by emergency response personnel that it is safe.

Those near an exit who decide leaving is the best chance for survival should run in a zigzag and take advantage of whatever cover is available.

Those in residence halls should follow similar guidelines. If they are in a lounge or common area they should move to the nearest securable area and barricade themselves in their rooms with whatever material is available.

In parking lots or open campus areas, people should leave the area quickly, using parked vehicles, trees or buildings as cover.

When police officers arrive, people should follow their directions, even to stop and put their hands on their heads or to lie on the ground.

"We're constantly reviewing the plans and continually going through training," Jones said on Tuesday.

Reporting

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BSU also has guidelines for reporting any armed violent subject on campus directly to the Emergency 911 Operator.

Without compromising personal safety, observations made may help emergency personnel.

The following are questions that the 911 operator will most likely ask:

E How many subjects did you observe?

E What was the exact location where the subject or subjects entered the building?

E What time did you observe the subject or subjects enter the building?

E If known, what type of weapon or weapons did you observe (rifle, shotgun, pistol, etc.)?

E Subject description, including height, weight, build, gender, age, race, hair color and length and a description of the clothing worn by the subject or subjects.

E Did you observe the subject or subjects exit a vehicle, and if so, what is the description and location where the vehicle is parked?

The BSU Department of Security and Safety also urges people to pay attention to early warning signs and take any threat against the campus community seriously. This information should be forwarded to a security staff member at 755-3888, or law enforcement officials at 751-9111.

Further guidelines can be found at www.bemidjistate.edu/security .

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