Temple Police’s shelter-in-place drill scheduled for later this week will be the start of an increased frequency of emergency drills to take place on Main Campus this semester. In the past, students have never practiced the drill.
This drill will begin at noon on Thursday on all of Temple’s domestic campuses, and will last for about 10-15 minutes, according to an email sent to students on March 30. The TU Sirens System will be activated for the first three minutes of the drill, prompting students to go indoors.
Students will be instructed to stay away from external doors and windows during the duration of the drill.
This increase of emergency drills comes from the office of Emergency Management’s efforts to improve the university population’s awareness and preparedness during emergency situations, said Charlie Leone, the executive director of Campus Safety Services. The shelter-in-place drill will be an annual occurrence. The university will also increase other emergency drills on campus, including evacuation and lockdown drills.
A shelter-in-place emergency will be called when there is an environmental hazard, such as severe weather or a chemical spill, during which people seek internal shelter.
“This year, I expect that [the drill] will be a first for some people,” said Sarah Powell, the university’s first director of Emergency Management. “There will be some surprise there.”
Leone said students should expect to see an increase in every type of drill, as the department is expanding the drill schedule.
Leone added that the department wants to reevaluate the rally points where students meet on campus during an evacuation, because increased construction on Main Campus has changed the safety and accessibility of certain locations.
Powell said there will be “more visible” lockdown drills happening on Main Campus in the future. In the past, only building managers and security officers practiced lockdown drills, which require people to secure themselves in a room because of a threat to the building’s occupants.
Two years ago, Powell began establishing emergency management teams in every residence hall and academic building on Main, Health Sciences, Ambler and Center City campuses.
The teams consist of two staff members on each floor of a building, who have received evacuation, lockdown, shelter-in-place and active shooter training, Powell said.
She added that fewer than ten buildings on all the university’s campuses still need complete emergency management teams.
Powell said the teams are intended to support students, instead of telling students exactly what to do during an emergency situation. She wants all of the university’s population to know what to do during an emergency situation without any help.
“They’re out there doing what they need to do, but everyone needs to know how to respond,” Powell said. “People need to know what they’re doing and why.”
Powell said her concern is that students may not know what to do if an emergency were to occur on campus in the near future.
“We just need to be able to respond to things, and I think Temple has been lucky that we haven’t had major situations,” Powell said. “We know that exercising and drills are probably the most important things that anyone can do for preparedness.”
Powell and Leone both said that practicing these drills are a universal tool for students.
“For example, [shelter-in-place] is for environmental hazards and you seek interior space away from external windows and doors,” Powell said. “That’s the action. If you’re at the movie theater, at Target or visiting grandma at her apartment in Center City, and you know that there is a shelter-in-place, that’s what you need to do.”
“We have a very large population, so Temple needs to make sure that, as a community, we do as much as we can to get ourselves into a better spot,” she added.
Kelly Brennan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @_kellybrennan.