Talk safety at your next staff meeting

This is the second of a two-part series on staying safe at Iowa State. Tips come from ISU police officers -- interim chief of police Aaron DeLashmutt and deputy chief Carrie Jacobs, Lt. Elliott Florer and officer Anthony Greiter.

ISU police officers have a new agenda item for staff meetings all over campus. It's a safety discussion, in which colleagues and office mates figure out what they'll do if disaster -- in the form of fire, medical emergency, violence or something else -- shows up in their buildings.

Safety checklists for:

Periodic safety discussions are one of the most important ways workers can prepare for a crisis in the office or the classroom. ISU police suggest that these topics be covered in those discussions:

  • Where emergency exits are located
  • Whether a building's windows can be opened
  • What the plan is for evacuating the building
  • Who should make the call to emergency personnel
  • Where to hide if the exit is blocked by a violent intruder

In the classroom

Classroom safety starts with important safety information included in syllabi. Additionally, instructors should have first-day discussions with students on what they should do and where they should go in emergencies.

Every classroom includes an emergency response guide. The poster contains emergency numbers and bullet points on responding to fire, severe weather, violent incidents and other urgent situations. Classrooms also include maps with evacuation routes and other emergency info. The same information for every facility on campus is available on the building information website.

Best training resources

Safety information, ranging from training sessions by ISU police to online videos and presentations, is readily available to the university community. These are recommended by ISU police:

  • Emergency response video. This 8-minute video, produced by environmental health and safety and public safety, provides useful tips for responding to campus emergencies, including violent incidents. It's a good conversation starter for a staff discussion on workplace safety.
  • Recognizing and reporting disturbing behavior. ISU police offer this training, upon request of ISU groups and units. The focus is on recognizing warning signs of potentially violent behavior. This session is considered a precursor to the violent incident response training (below). To schedule the one- to two-hour training for a group, contact deputy chief Carrie Jacobs at 294-9848.
  • Violent incident response training. ISU police have given this popular three-hour training to 146 groups over the past three years. The training focuses on the ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) method of dealing with violent encounters. For scheduling and information, contact Lt. Elliott Florer at 294-4428.

Safer than most municipalities

ISU police note that Iowa State has many safety-related features and services that don't exist in most municipalities. Examples include:

  • The ISU Alert mass notification system
  • Free safety escort services
  • Emergency phones
  • Outdoor warning sirens with voice capability
  • Automated external defibrillators (AEDs)
  • Electronic card access for many buildings
  • Residence hall cameras, door peepholes and safety screens on many first-floor windows

All of that, of course, doesn't ensure safety. ISU police advise everyone to occasionally think about the unthinkable -- what would I do in a dangerous situation? Having an action plan already in mind could be life-saving.

Related stories

ISU Police: If it doesn't seem right, report, Jan. 14, 2015