What to do when there's an active threat on campus

Stanford Report asked Emergency Manager Keith Perry how Stanford would communicate with faculty, students and staff during an emergency involving an active threat on campus, and what actions they should take if the university issued a "shelter-in-place" order.

L.A. Cicero

Keith Perry, emergency manager

Last week, as the manhunt for the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing unfolded in Boston and nearby suburbs, several colleges and universities – including Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston University and Boston College – closed due to public safety concerns. The suspects allegedly killed an MIT public safety officer; a student at BU was killed in the marathon blast.

Stanford Report asked Emergency Manager Keith Perry how Stanford would communicate with faculty, students and staff during an emergency involving an active threat on campus and what actions they should take if the university issued a "shelter-in-place" order.

In the event of an active threat on campus, specifically a person with weapons, how will Stanford let faculty, staff and students know about the threat?

Unless you are in the immediate vicinity of an incident where you can see or hear what is happening, the most rapid way to be alerted to an event is by receiving an AlertSU message to your cell phone.

Staff, faculty and students should make sure that their cell phone numbers are current and listed in Stanford directories to receive emergency notifications.

For staff and faculty, cell phone numbers need to be listed in the StanfordYou directory in the "Mobile contact info" section. Be sure to check the box that says "OK to use for AlertSU." Students should keep their mobile contact information current in Axess. Text messages will almost always arrive more quickly than phone calls or email messages.

How will the university keep everyone apprised of the situation as it develops?

Once university officials are aware of a situation, they will use a variety of mechanisms to make information available to the campus community. These will include AlertSU messages and any or all of the following: posting information to the Emergency Information website (emergency.stanford.edu); posting information on the university's Department of Public Safety website; calling the University emergency hotline, (650) 725-5555; social media, such as the Stanford Facebook and Twitter accounts; and KZSU (90.1 FM or kzsu.stanford.edu). The best place to get up-to-date information will be the websites.

In a major event, the Stanford homepage will be replaced with a "light" version of the page to accommodate increased web traffic to the site and to provide a common source for official university information.

We strongly encourage people to stay off their cell phones unless making calls related to the emergency, reporting an incident or assisting with the response. Cell phone capacity will be at a premium during an event. Unnecessary cell phone calls will make it more difficult for responders and Stanford officials to manage the campus response.

If classes are in session and campus offices, departments, athletics facilities, etc., are open, what should faculty, staff and students do in response to a shelter-in-place message?

A shelter-in-place order means that there is an ongoing threat to campus safety that requires people to take immediate action to protect their personal safety. Activities should cease. People outdoors should seek shelter indoors. People already indoors should secure their location by locking doors, closing windows and retreating to a more secure location within a building if possible. Responders will provide updates to the campus community as soon as they have information to share.

What kind of response training does Stanford provide?  

The university's Department of Public Safety provides personal training for departments on responding to an active threat on campus. This training includes the concepts of the Run, Hide, Fight philosophy. To request this training, contact Kathy Harris at kharris3@stanford.edu in the Department of Public Safety to request a local presentation. You can also view a version of the "Run, Hide, Fight" training video.

What will be the "all clear" signal that will end a "shelter-in-place" order?

Stanford will issue a message through the AlertSU system to lift a shelter-in-place order and will also post this information on the appropriate emergency communications web pages and through other media channels.

For more information on responses to a variety of situations on campus, visit the Stanford Emergency Guide online in the Emergency Preparedness section of the Environmental Health & Safety website.  

Every department on campus should have a clear set of local emergency procedures. If you are unsure what your local procedures are, ask your supervisor for more information.