Batavia, New York —Fifteen area law enforcement and emergency responders joined Genesee Community College leaders on July 13 to conduct a “tabletop” safety drill aimed at making a safe college campus even safer. Unlike a full-blown emergency drill, a tabletop drill features critical analysis and discussion of a hypothetical emergency scenario. During the drill, responders and college officials were confronted with a hypothetical scenario involving a suspicious backpack left near the college safety office. Participants analyzed possible courses of action, which then became more complicated as the drill unfolded with additional facts and dangers.
Participants included representatives of the New York State Police, Genesee County Sheriff’s Department, Genesee County Emergency Management Services, Mercy EMS, Town of Batavia Fire Department, Batavia Police Department, as well as members of the GCC’s Campus Safety staff and of the President’s Cabinet.
Tabletop and other emergency drills are becoming more common in colleges, public schools and business organizations. Drills help officials identify their readiness to confront emergencies, and analyze potential safety risks and dangers. Emergencies can include blizzards, firearm incidents, environmental spills, fire and serious criminal incidents.
Genesee Community College’s Department of Campus Safety provides a variety of safety-related services to the college community. The College also uses a variety of sophisticated technology, including video monitoring, to track activity around the Batavia Campus and the six campus centers.
“Genesee Community College is a safe college, located in a safe community,” said President James M. Sunser. But emergencies can happen, and college officials place a great value on being prepared. “The tabletop drill gave us the opportunity to work with many expert local law enforcement and emergency response officials,” Dr. Sunser said. “I came away believing that we’re doing a good job on safety, but even then, we picked up a few suggestions for improvements.”
Suggestions included possible changes in directional signs, which could be helpful in evacuations, as well as designation of additional emergency gathering areas for law enforcement and college officials to use in the event of an emergency.
The College follows emergency response principles recommended by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Many college staff members are trained in U.S. Department of Homeland Security incident command techniques.
GCC Campus Safety Director Stephen P. Wise said that he would like to sponsor a live emergency drill, using college and law enforcement personnel, real equipment and students in the future.
Dr. Sunser said that, while safety training and technology is valuable, the College encourages faculty, staff, students and visitors to be aware of their surroundings and report unusual or suspicious activity. “The old adage ‘if you see something, say something’ is still the best way to prevent crime, emergencies and safety hazards,” he said. “I am proud that our college community is very observant and safety-conscious.”
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