Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Since 1907
Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

How to respond in an active shooter situation

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On Tuesday afternoon, William Corner, director of campus safety, gave a presentation in the Commons Annex Lecture Hall called “Shots Fired on Campus: What to do in the event of an active shooter.”

Last year, Calvin’s campus was put on lockdown after campus safety received reports of an active shooter in the area. Events like this emphasize the importance of always knowing what to do in an emergency, Corner said.

“I hate to say it,” said Corner, “but we seem to see with more frequency these kind of events happening around the country.”

In order to help Calvin be better prepared for this rare but potentially dangerous event, Corner suggested a few strategies.

Before any kind of violent situation occurs, be aware of the emergency response plan available at and the Calvin Assessment Response and Evaluation (CARE) team. The CARE team, made up of representatives from many Calvin divisions, handles reports of students exhibiting at-risk behavior. “It doesn’t have to be that they’re threatening someone,” said Corner. “It could be self-harm; it could be that they’re in a state of extreme depression.” To report a student to the CARE team, fill out the online form on their website.

In the event that there is a shooter on campus, campus safety recommends the “run, hide, fight” thought process. If you hear something that sounds like shots, assume they are and get out of the building. Keep an exit route in mind, and only help others who are along that exit route. Move in a zig-zag so you’re harder to hit. When you reach an exit, move away so that it doesn’t get blocked and prevent others from entering the building. Follow police instructions, keeping your hands visible at all times if police are present. Run until you feel you’re safe, which could be off campus.

If evacuation is impossible, find a place to hide outside the shooter’s view. Get out of hallways immediately. Ideally, your hiding place will provide both protection and cover (like a brick wall), rather than just cover. Make sure your hiding place doesn’t restrict your movement. Barricade doors if possible, though this is often difficult with classroom doors that are required by fire code to open out. Keep quiet and talk only to make a plan.

Fighting the shooter is a last resort if your life is in immediate danger. Attempt to incapacitate the threat, act with commitment and remember that almost anything (like heavy backpacks) can be used as a weapon. Once the subject is incapacitated, push weapons away and secure him or her. Remain with the suspect unless another is known to be present.

Call 911 and/or campus safety only when it is safe to do so. If the incident is on campus, you must call campus safety’s emergency number at (616) 526-3333 because they are the first responders for the campus and will be able to direct local police to the correct building.

Never pull the fire alarm in an active shooter situation, as it will drive people into the hallways and into danger.

Advance knowledge and preparation is key, Corner said. “Even being someone who’s trained in how to respond to these things, it can be quite scary and sometimes your head is spinning.” Avoid being “frozen in fear” by thinking about the unthinkable ahead of time.

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