The Public Safety Department hosted “Public Safety & U,” an event tailored to give students and faculty a stronger sense of control in “fight or flight” situations, March 1. The program was organized by communication accreditation manager Colin Quinn and police officer Kim McClay.
“Many members of the community were not aware of the many services offered by public safety,” Eileen Behr, vice president of public safety, said. This lack of awareness led the public safety department to design a program that aims to promote awareness and train students, faculty and staff within the Drexel community in situations that may threaten their personal safety. According to Behr, many people are reluctant to use public safety resources because they do not think they need extra safety precautions. Moreover, they often miscalculate what is worth being reported to the police.
“We want people to think about each situation they encounter and think about self-protection or escape,” Behr explained. In other words, people believe emergencies like that will never happen to them, which is why they see preparing for them as a waste of time.
The training session, held March 1, walked the audience through the different steps of analyzing a threatening situation. The steps included being aware of the present environment and any suspicious behavior, knowing how to remain calm and understanding what counts as disruptive or irrational behavior. McClay argued that people often do not know how to identify different verbal and nonverbal elements which could indicate a person’s aggressivity. What was essential to bear in mind was the awareness of one’s environment and how it changed depending on one’s immediate surroundings.
The program has reached out to various departments, including the College of Nursing and the LeBow School of Business, to encourage students and staff to sign up for the training. The main skill the program hopes to develop in the participants is a “survival mindset” that will help trainees judge when and how to react in dangerous situations.
Furthermore, in light of the increasing shooting incidents in the Philadelphia area, the session discussed effective response practices to an active shooter or active shooting incident. Although active shootings have been on the rise, McClay said that the odds of being involved in one remain slim. Yet, it is still important to have a prepared prevention plan. When in an active shooting area, silencing cell phones, knowing exits, hiding areas, emergency contacts and self-defense tactics could make one safer.
In the presentation, the leaders emphasized that an important element of becoming trained to handle emergency situations is acknowledging the importance of using Drexel’s public safety resources. These include the shuttle services, walking escorts and all-gender self defense classes.
An important takeaway of the Public Safety & U program is the training of members of the Drexel community in distress situations, who will have a rehearsed plan in mind as opposed to those not trained for these situations. The program encourages participants to feel more secure and confident in an urban environment and discourage against the common reaction of panic and passivity.