Austin College Talks Emergency Response Following Shooting at UT - KTEN.com - Texoma news, weather and sports

Austin College Talks Emergency Response Following Shooting at UT

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SHERMAN, TX --- Tuesday's shooting on the campus of UT Austin has people questioning just how safe colleges are in an emergency. After 9/11, Austin College in Sherman developed an emergency response team to help manage crisis situations. Deeda Payton spoke to the president of the college.

Fortunately Austin College has never had to activate it's emergency notification system for anything other than power outages or severe weather, but campus officials say they do test their sirens and systems periodically to make sure they work and that students are aware of them.

"Your attention please, your attention please. There is an emergency on campus. Everyone should go indoors and remain indoors until the all-clear is sounded." that was the message students on the University of Texas campus at Austin heard Tuesday morning.

A student, armed with an assault rifle, fired several rounds in the library before turning the gun on himself. The gunman was the only fatality, but after a campus-wide lockdown all classes were canceled for the day. "First of all I want to compliment number one the University of Texas and the Texas, University of Texas Police Department. I've never seen a response as I saw this morning when I got here within minutes of this incident unfolding. The students did their part. They cleared the streets. They cleared the grounds in a very quick manner and I think it speaks volumes as what you do to prepare in your communication system.  so our hat's off to you," said Chief Art Acevedo of the Austin Police Department.

Austin's police chief commended the university's handling of the situation, but incidents like these have local colleges looking at their own emergency response policies. "I think every institution is aware of how important it is to have good crisis management practices to have very good emergency preparedness practices and to test those on a regular basis," said President, Marjorie Hass.

Austin College in Sherman has had an emergency response team since 9/11 and has recently acquired grants for new safety equipment. "We Austin College like many college campuses have an emergency notification system we have a variety of signals we can use to indicate to campus people that emergencies are occurring," said Hass.

College administrators say they are constantly looking at what more they can do to increase safety on campus, but they say communication is the key to surviving any crisis.

Administrators say they also encourage all faculty and staff to report any warning signs of distress in students. They say they try to be just as pro-active as responsive to a potential crisis.

Deeda Payton, KTEN News.

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