LBW preps for crises like FSU

Published 12:21 am Saturday, November 22, 2014

Shootings such as the one earlier this week at Florida State University serve as reminder that violence can happen anywhere, but LBWCC President Herb Riedel said employees have received training in case the situation were to happen at one of its four campuses.

“We take safety very seriously,” he said. “The safety of our students and our teachers is important.”

This week, three students were shot at FSU’s library, and the gunman was eventually shot and killed. Of the three victims, one was hospitalized and was in critical condition; another was listed in good condition and the third was treated at the scene.

Riedel said that college campuses are different than high school campuses in that the campuses are “open.”

“We allow the public to come on campus,” he said. “We don’t put barriers up. We don’t have what the schools do in terms of lockout.”

Riedel said safety is something “we have long been concerned with.”

LBWCC leadership participated in a tabletop drill with the assistance of the Andalusia Police Department in December 2012.

“We went through training and scenarios and what to do,” he said. “Interestingly, that was one week prior to the Sandy Hook disaster.”

Riedel said in March 2013, the faculty and staff – college wide – participated in a class taught by Homeland Security.

“They had produced a short video called, ‘Run, Hide, Fight,’” he said. “We also talked to an officer from Homeland Security, specifically about an active shooter situation.”

Additionally, Riedel said the college is very close to doing a program called Virtual Alabama.

“It’s a very detailed mapping of every building, every classroom, every office,” he said. “We will do this of all our campuses. It will be stored electronically and shared with all emergency departments and other agencies that need to know it.”

Riedel said the program will show where each window is located, which way the doors open or closed, and more.

“We will be able to immediately tell them where something is,” he said. “And they will be able to look up and get the information about the particular location.”

Riedel said that while incidents such as the shooting at FSU bring to light the need for preparedness, it’s something that’s on the mind of his administration daily.

“We are constantly thinking about it,” he said. “We are actually having professional development related to mental health needs of students and recognizing signs and how to respond.”

Several LBWCC staff members have already participated in mental health first aid classes.

“Oftentimes, with an incident of violence such as this, there is an incidence of mental health issues,” Riedel said. “We want our staff to learn to recognize the warning signs early and be able to intervene appropriately.”

Despite all the preparation, Riedel said, LBWCC is still vulnerable.

“You can never be 100 percent safe when dealing with people,” he said. “If you walk on the street downtown, you can’t be sure you’ll be safe.”

Still, college officials have taken steps to maximize preparedness.

“We will continue to do so,” he said.