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Health Center Today, August 20, 2010

Learning How to Respond If a Shooting Occurred on Campus

By Carolyn Pennington

In response to the recent shootings at Hartford Distributors in Manchester, the University of Connecticut Police Department held an active threat training session at the Health Center. Faculty and staff were given advice on recognizing the potential for violence and realistic strategies to survive an active shooter incident.

The program, developed by the Center for Personal Protection and Safety, included a 20 minute instructional video designed to empower potential victims in a university or workplace environment.

“You need to have a survival mindset – be mindful, not fearful,” says Lt. Chris Casa of the UConn Police Department. Casa along with Officer Tom Ryba led the training session. Casa pointed out that workplace shootings are over in a matter of minutes, usually before police arrive on the scene.

“A trained person experiences less stress in these situations,” says Ryba. “They can focus on strategies of escape and survival while others will panic and fall into surreal disbelief.”

The training focused on three main areas – how to get out, hide out, and take out.

Getting out is always the first option in an active shooter situation. That’s why it’s important to know your escape routes, usually the same ones you would use during a fire.

If you can’t get out, then you should try hiding out. “Preferably in a room where you can lock the door, turn off the lights, and shove furniture or anything heavy against the door,” says Ryba.

If the shooter finds you, then it’s time to take him out. “If you’re with others, spread out across the room, don’t huddle together,” says Casa. “Yell and scream, throw anything you have at him – books, purses, high heel shoes – and then gang up on him.” Casa stressed that you have to act as a team and without hesitation.

The training session also included an update on the Health Center’s recent upgrades in security. The Farmington campus now has 32 exterior emergency phones and 232 security cameras.

The Health Center police department urges all employees to sign up for the Alert Notification System at

For more information on staying safe in the workplace and resolving conflict, visit Know Better Place.