In today’s environment, it may seem that threats are everywhere and that violence and harm can impact anyone at any time.
While threats are real, our safety and security must be evaluated in context and viewed with the proper perspective. Being at work, at FGCU, is one of the safest activities in which one can be engaged. That does not mean that we should not remain vigilant and be prepared to act to mitigate those threats that do materialize. However, vigilance must not turn into paranoia or bigotry.
This Annex provides general information to improve awareness and potential outcomes of some threats that could impact us at any time. The information can augment specific departmental, facility and/or personal safety plans, but it is not sufficient to replace those plans. Additionally, some sections of this Annex pose open-ended questions. To the extent practical, these questions should be addressed in departmental plans. They may also indicate highly variable situations to be addressed in real-time, as events unfold. In these cases, we should develop systems and processes to quickly and competently address the issues as they arise. One of the simplest ways to improve safety and security in any setting is recognizing subtle changes in one’s environment and being willing to act appropriately to address those changes.
Preparedness & Safety
Situational AwarenessToggle More Info
Situational awareness is being aware of one's surroundings and identifying potential threats and dangerous situations. It is important not just for personal security, but as a critical part of overall organizational security. While, awareness is more a mindset than a hard skill, it can be enhanced with practice. First, recognize that threats exist. Bad things happen and apathy, denial and complacency can be deadly. Then, accept that you are the person most responsible for your safety and security. Finally, the subconscious can perceive subtle danger signs that the conscious mind has difficulty rectifying. So, trust your instincts and be ready to act appropriately if required.
However, awareness is not the same as being paranoid or obsessively concerned with security, nor does it require remaining hyper-vigilant at all times. Paranoia is dangerous to one’s mental and physical health as well as counterproductive to improving security. And, hyper-vigilance is physically exhausting when maintained for long periods. Situational awareness is best achieved when one can maintain a relaxed, but attentive state.
Awareness can be improved by making a conscious effort to pay attention to your perceptions and surrounding events even while busy or distracted. For example, identify all the exits in view as you enter a building, identify the cars you see most often during your daily commute or notice the fire extinguishers and pull stations as you walk through a building. These types of exercises can help train one’s mind to remain aware, without being overly stressed.
Decision-Making in a Threat EnvironmentToggle More Info
Decision-making in potential threat situation is comprised of at least two separate processes that must integrate seamlessly to be effective. The first is personal decision-making. The second is organizational decision-making, which is typically triggered by action on a personal decision.
Personal decision-making, as the term implies, is an individual process, influenced by the myriad of traits and experiences that make each person unique. Because the organizational response is often initiated through the personal process, we must not rely on this random accumulation to make an informed, well-considered decision in an emergency. It is imperative that we train and educate people regarding their roles and responsibilities in meeting the organization’s mission, and then reinforce that training through regular practice.
Organizational decision-making is subject to all the influences of personal decision-making and is further complicated by the management structure of the organization. While valuable in day-to-day events and the planning and preparation for emergencies, concepts such as shared governance and teamwork can be ineffective, even dangerous, if they are applied inappropriately and delay timely risk assessment and the implementation of protective actions during an emergency. As with personal decision-making, the solution to these challenges is proper training and exercises, grounded in a clear understanding of the priorities and mission of the organization.
Inherently, we would prefer to remove all risk from our decisions. While intellectually we know that is impossible, the reality of considering the life and death consequences of our actions can make the concept extremely difficult to discard at a gut level. The possible resulting hesitation to make and implement timely decisions can have disastrous consequences. Proper evaluation and tolerance of acceptable risk is critical to timely, effective decision-making. Some general considerations are listed below.
- Failure to act is a decision … usually a dangerous one.
- No decision is risk free, or liability free.
- We will never have enough information to make a perfect decision.
- We must often choose the “least bad” option from a set of worse ones.
- Higher risk is acceptable in lower consequence events.
- Despite our best efforts, bad things, with severe consequences, can still happen.
In summary, effective decision-making during a threat is dependent on having an established, well-designed process consistent with the University’s mission, vision and values that identifies each person’s role, responsibility and authority. Once developed this process must drive appropriate training and exercises until each person is comfortable and competent in their assigned role.
EvacuationToggle More Info
One of the most common decisions made in an emergency is the decision to evacuate a facility or area. Evacuation is invaluable for protecting people from some hazards. However, there are circumstances where immediate evacuation may be inappropriate. This is further complicated when multiple hazards are present. For example, evacuation of a building population into an open field may be appropriate for an unconfirmed fire alarm on a clear day. However, that decision may be reconsidered if the same alarm occurs during a lightning storm. The number of possible “hazard permutations” is infinite, making specific (if this, then that) plans impractical. At a minimum, evacuation procedures should address the following.
- Ensure that everyone impacted is aware and responding appropriately.
- Include people with disabilities and/or communications challenges.
- Evacuation routes and assembly areas must be safe and appropriate for the hazard.
- Account for all impacted persons (evacuees).
- Ensure emergency services / 9-1-1 have been notified.
- Make required internal notifications.
- Begin initial planning for reentry or relocation immediately.
Fire AlarmsToggle More Info
Fire alarms are located in every routinely occupied building on campus. Because they are familiar and available, there may be a tendency to consider their use in any situation that could require evacuation. However, fire alarms are best suited to addressing immediate life safety concerns that in turn are best addressed though immediate evacuation (i.e., fire or chemical release inside the building). Because fire alarms generally move and collect large numbers of people through and in predetermined locations, their use may increase casualties in events, such as shootings or bombings, where the perpetrator can target these egress locations and simply use the alarm as a diversion.
Reentry / Re-occupancyToggle More Info
The decision to evacuate a facility can be difficult, but is typically straightforward. However, the decision to reenter and reoccupy a facility can be more disconcerting for all involved. While the decision to evacuate can be driven by any number of authorities, the decision to reoccupy the facility ultimately becomes the call of the facility owner. A facility should only be reoccupied if it is safe and prudent to do so. While the details of the decision will be dependent on the nature of the original threat, the decision-making process can, and should, be predefined. Some considerations in defining the process include:
- Who (individual or team) will determine the facility is safe and approve reentry?
- Can/Should part, but not all, of the facility be reoccupied?
- How will the safety determination be made?
- What is the minimum acceptable level of infrastructure (electricity, water, sewer, telephone, computer network, etc.) availability?
- If the facility may have been contaminated, how clean is clean enough? How is it determined?
- Are there mental/emotional concerns associated with the event (i.e., fatalities, anxiety, etc.) that will impact reentry? How will these be addressed?
- How will decisions be communicated, and questions answered?
While they often lack a definitive answer, these and other questions must be addressed prior to a safe, successful reentry. Additionally, facts and logic may be overwhelmed by emotions and perceptions surrounding the event. These intangible influences must be considered when reentry decisions are made. Preplanning cannot answer every potential question, instead efforts should focus on identifying decision-makers and developing a working process to identify and adequately address issues that influence reentry and re-occupancy.
Threat Specific Considerations
We have discussed situational awareness and decision-making processes in a general threat environment. The following pages address several, more specific threat scenarios. The focus remains on awareness and a willingness to act based on observed behaviors. In making these observations, focus on the person’s behavior rather than the person’s traits. Avoid relying on single factors and corroborate critical information. Finally, remember that violence is a dynamic process. Focus on prevention, not prediction.
Active ShooterToggle More Info
Active shooters and mass killings seem to dominate the news recently. While the chance of such events occurring on campus is extremely remote, it is possible. We must remain aware and ready and willing to act if we are threatened. This is surprisingly difficult for most people. Whether due to brain biology or socialization, in an emergency, the natural tendency for most people is to do nothing. While it may seem logical, most of those who survive life threatening emergencies are those who purposely decide to act. To be ready to act, we must consider what can go wrong and then mentally create a plan to address those dangers.
In an active shooter situation, there are three (3) basic options. They are run, hide, or fight. Each individual must use their own discretion and trust their own instincts in determining which of these options to utilize. Once you determine a course of action, commit to it and do whatever is necessary to survive. Do not attempt to move or assist any wounded you may encounter. It leaves you vulnerable to attack and adding to the victim count does not help anyone.
- Run – If you consider it safe to do so, running away should be your first action. Try to get others to follow, but do not waste time if they refuse or are indecisive. Leave your personal possessions behind, but take your cell phone if it is immediately accessible. Once clear of the area, take cover behind something sturdy enough to stop a bullet and try to stop anyone else from entering the area.
- Hide – Close and lock the door (if you can) then blockade it with furniture and/or other heavy objects. Make a plan with others in the room about what you will do if the shooter enters. Close blinds, turn off lights, spread out away from other individuals and move behind available cover, silence cell phones, remain hidden and quiet.
- Fight – This is a high risk strategy and should generally be a last resort. Subduing an armed assailant is dangerous for even experienced persons. If fighting is required, commit totally to prevailing, by any means necessary. Use anything available as a weapon and act as a team if others are present and willing to assist. Do everything in your power to separate and control the weapon and the person.
At some point, you will likely encounter responding law enforcement officers. If that happens, listen for and follow their instructions. Keep your hands visible and empty. Do not run toward officers or make any sudden movements. Law enforcement’s first priority is to find and stop the shooter. They must ensure that is not you, so expect to be treated initially with some suspicion. Remain calm and compliant. When it is safe to do so, you will be instructed on how to exit the area.
For more information or training regarding active shooting, contact the University Police.
Bomb ThreatToggle More Info
While bomb threats can be received in almost any format (letters, email, even graffiti) most bomb threats are received over the telephone, and over 99% of them do not involve the placement of a bomb or incendiary device. Threats fall into two categories, specific and non-specific. Specific threats are the least common but most credible. In these cases the caller provides specific information about the device, its location and/or the caller’s motives. As the term implies, non-specific threats simply make generalized statements with no supporting detail. Regardless of the way it is received or the specificity of the notification, every bomb threat must be taken seriously and evaluated carefully. When there is a specific threat and a short timeframe, the only reasonable action may be evacuation and waiting until a bomb squad can clear the building.
During a bomb threat, the decision to evacuate is made by the owner or manager of the facility and should be addressed in written policies. (Note: If a device is located, the evacuation decision will be made by public safety officials.) Evacuation can be complete or partial, removing occupants from the building or relocating them within other areas of the building. During an evacuation, occupants should use the same exit plans and routes as used for fire alarms. Assembly areas should be far enough away to be safe from blast overpressure and flying debris should a bomb actually detonate (see Attachment A). It is imperative to search evacuation routes and assembly areas before evacuation is undertaken. Once evacuated, do not reenter a building for any reason until the “all clear” is given.
If a non-specific threat is received, it may be reasonable to conduct a search of the location, prior to evacuation. However, this is a complex decision with no risk-free solution. Policies should be established beforehand to guide this determination. Depending on policy, bomb searches may be conducted is several ways.
- Managers and supervisors may covertly search the premises.
- Management may designate and train special teams to conduct overt searches.
- Workers in the affected location may search their own work areas.
Employees who work in a location are typically the most qualified to search that location and can quickly spot items that are out-of-place or suspicious. Searches should focus on public areas (lobbies, restrooms, stairwells, etc.) and be systematic in their approach. Evacuation routes and assembly areas should be searched before ordering any evacuations. In any search, there are several basic rules:
- Never touch or move a suspected device. Note its location and isolate the area.
- Do not assume there is only one device.
- Do not change the environment (i.e., turn off lights, water, gas, etc.) in any way.
- Do not use cell phones or radios (even if they are labeled intrinsically safe) near a device.
The delivery of a bomb threat can occur in one of two ways, personally (telephone, face-to-face) or remotely (mail, email, etc.). In either case, fear is a natural reaction. It is important to work through the initial panic and follow your training. For a written threat, once the threat is confirmed, do not handle the item any more. This will improve subsequent evidence collection. Collect and save all material received with the item. If the threat is made in person or over the telephone, be professional and courteous and gather as much information as possible. On the telephone, keep the caller on the line as long as possible. Signal a co-worked to call University Police or use LYNX alert (F9-F11) on the computer keyboard, if possible. Do not hang up your phone when the conversation ends.
Suspicious Persons, Activities and EventsToggle More Info
The successful intervention or prevention of many violent events begins with one person who notices something unusual and reports what they observed. This is true for individual acts of violence (disgruntled employees, spousal violence, etc.) and larger, systemic attacks targeting the University community. Even in many events that outwardly appear spontaneous, there is some element of planning the attack. In larger, more organized attacks, there is almost always a degree of preoperational surveillance and testing of security. These planning efforts can provide an opportunity to observe and report. This is not to say that every event can be foreseen and/or prevented. However, a vigilant community with a willingness to act (situational awareness) can provide a significant deterrent to local violence from any source.
To be an effective in preventing harm, the observation of suspicious behavior must be reported and followed-up. Within the FGCU community that process can take several routes. The most subtle of these is the Behavioral Consultation and Assessment Team (BCAT). BCAT provides services to intervene with persons who may be having difficulties. The second function of BCAT is to act as a gatekeeper for activation of the Threat Assessment Management Team (TAMT). As the name implies, the purpose of the TAMT is to assess information and manage potential threats to the University community. University Police have membership on both groups to maintain visibility on potential threats; to respond to incidents with a criminal nexus and/or in situations where the potential threat is immediate. Suspicious activities (see below) and/or threats of violence should be reported directly to the University Police Department.
The open, and often eccentric, nature of the University campus community creates an extremely diverse atmosphere. It is critical to remember that “unusual” is not always “suspicious” and a disagreement is not usually at threat. While we must not succumb to paranoia, some behaviors and/or events should arouse suspicion in a reasonable person. These include:
- Persons attempting to gain unauthorized entry into restricted areas.
- Persons with documents highlighting critical areas, without a reasonable explanation.
- Discreet or surreptitious use of cameras, sketching or note-taking.
- Persons making detailed observations of, or asking unusual questions about, security measures and equipment.
- Persons wearing bulky clothing inconsistent with the weather and/or event.
- Loitering or parking in the same area for multiple days/hours with no reasonable explanation.
- Trying to disguise one’s appearance from visit to visit (changes in hair, clothes, etc.).
- An unusual number of false fire/evacuation alarms.
- Abandoned items in a high-traffic or unusual location.
- Bags, containers, or vehicles left unattended in unusual locations.
- Unexpected receipt of a package from an unknown sender.
None of these, on their own, is indicative of a pending attack or violent event, but it is reasonable to view them as suspicious and report the observations to the University Police.
Severe Thunderstorm Warning/Tornado WarningToggle More Info
The purpose of this annex is to provide guidance to staff, faculty, students, contractors and visitors on the Florida Gulf Coast University campus in responding to a severe weather event that may include a tornado.
This procedure is applicable to all persons on the FGCU campus. Because each weather related event is unique, the procedures in this document should not override sound judgment, informed by accurate and understood information, with due regard for the safety of self and others.
Florida has the highest frequency of tornadoes per square miles of any state in the nation and, within Florida, the coast between Tampa Bay and Fort Myers has a particularly high incidence rate. While many are on the weaker end of the spectrum, all tornadoes are dangerous and can be deadly. No other weather phenomenon can match the fury and destructive power of tornadoes.
Special Safety Considerations:
The most dangerous element of a tornado, causing most fatalities and injuries, is flying debris. Therefore, protection from flying debris is the highest safety priority. Most tornadoes are abrupt at onset, short-lived and often obscured by rain or darkness. Remember if a tornado warning is issued for your area, a tornado is occurring or imminent nearby. There may be only seconds in which to take action. Know what to do to protect yourself and those for whom you are responsible. A well-executed, quick response when a tornado approaches can save lives.
Terms and Definitions:
A tornado is a narrow, violently rotating column of air that extends from the base of a thunderstorm to the ground.
A tornado watch means that conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes. Tornado watches are often issued an hour or two before severe weather begins, and stay in effect for several hours or until the thunderstorms pass through. Tornado watches typically cover large areas. Keep an eye on the sky for threatening weather and stay tuned to local radio and television to listen for weather bulletins.
A tornado warning is issued when a tornado has been sighted or indicated on radar and means that a tornado is imminent in your immediate area. Seek shelter immediately. Tornado warnings are more specific, limited to a smaller area, and of shorter duration than a watch.
Receiving Weather Information
A NOAA Weather Radio is the best way to receive critical, weather safety information. Local media (TV and radio) can supplement the National Weather Service information with more detail. In addition to these traditional information sources, a number of apps and web-based services exist and can be useful. However, make sure to read the “fine print” and understand any limitations before using these for life-safety decisions.
A relatively new technology, Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), is now being used to push critical weather and safety information directly to cell phones without any action by the user. This technology allows authorized public safety agencies to push notifications to specific cell towers, which then broadcast that message to all cell phones connected to that tower. The service is free and does not impact roaming fees, cellular minutes or data.
WEA messages are limited to 90 characters in length, so they are for warning only. For detailed, specific information, other sources should be consulted. However, because messages are sent to and by specific cell towers to all phones connected to that tower (not to specific phone numbers), if you receive a WEA Emergency Notification it is applicable to your current location. Act first to protect yourself, then seek additional information as time allows.
FGCU emergency notification resources (FGCU Alerts, email, the FGCU website, social media, siren, etc.) should not be relied upon to provide critical weather warnings. These systems are resource intensive and not staffed around the clock. Because weather emergencies can happen quickly and with little warning, the FGCU systems are not reliable as a source of urgent information. FGCU notification systems will be used as appropriate after a significant weather event or emergency.
During a Tornado Watch
A tornado watch means conditions are favorable for formation of a tornado, but no tornado is occurring or imminent at the time the watch is issued. Accordingly, no specific safety actions are required. Monitor the weather closely and mentally rehearse the actions you may take if a tornado actually occurs. If feasible, it may be prudent to delay traveling and outside activities until the watch is lifted, or expires. The University does not alter operations based on a tornado watch. All business and academic processes should continue as scheduled. However, all persons on the FGCU campus are expected to take appropriate precautions and be prepared to initiate personal and departmental safety plans should the need arise.
During a Tornado Warning
A tornado warning means a tornado has been spotted or is indicated on radar in the immediate area. The warning period is usually brief, and there may be very little time lead-time before the tornado impacts your location. A prompt response is critical; every second counts. Some specific vulnerabilities at FGCU include:
- Academic Classes – Classes will not typically be cancelled for a tornado warning. There is simply too little time for cancellation to be effective. However, just because classes are not cancelled, does not mean it is safe to go to class. Individual judgment is critical. Do not leave a sturdy building to walk, or drive, to class in extreme weather. Heavy rain, flooding, high winds, lightning and large hail, all routinely associated with the thunderstorms that typically spawn tornadoes, pose significant safety risks. Professors are encouraged to be liberal in enforcing attendance policies during severe weather.
- Shuttle Buses – Shuttle buses are high profile vehicles and very susceptible to wind. During a tornado warning, shuttle buses should proceed to the nearest sturdy building and evacuate the passengers and drivers into the building. Shuttle service can resume when the warning is over and conditions allow. However, increased caution is required due the potential for flooded roads, debris in the roadway and high winds associated with continuing thunderstorm storms.
- Modular Offices – at first glance, modular offices may seem like ordinary trailers, but they are different. Modular structures must conform to all State building codes, for their intended location and use, including code-specified hurricane force wind load resistance and air-borne debris impact resistance at the time of construction and are therefore designed to the same resistance criteria as any other campus buildings serving a similar purpose. Openings such as doors and windows are protected by wind and impact resistant construction that includes 9/16” thick laminated glass. Modular structures are also secured to the ground from movement with multiple engineered and inspected tie down anchors to resist uplift and overturning forces from code-specified hurricane force winds. For this reason, FGCU will not automatically evacuate modular offices during a tornado warning. However, if the occupants of the building feel unsafe AND weather conditions allow for safe relocation, evacuation is acceptable.
- Alico Arena – Typically gymnasiums and other buildings with wide free-span roofs are not safe in a tornado. With a maximum potential occupancy exceeding 5000 souls, Alico Arena is a concern. However, Alico Arena was constructed to meet coastal hurricane shelter standards (which exceeds the wind speed of an EF-2 tornado). While this is not a guarantee of the building’s performance during a tornado, Alico Arena will not be evacuated during a tornado warning. The complexity and risks associated with evacuation outweigh the potential safety benefit.
Tornado Safety Procedures
The safest place during a tornado is below ground level, inside a specifically designed tornado shelter. This is not feasible at FGCU. Neither have specific areas within campus buildings been designated as tornado shelter locations. Some safer shelter considerations are discussed below.
- In a sturdy building, move to small, interior spaces (hallways, bathrooms, closets, stairwells, office supply rooms, etc.) on the lowest floor. Close and secure the doors. In general, put as many solid walls between yourself and the exterior of the building as possible.
- Stay away from windows.
- Do not shelter in areas that contain, or may create, additional hazards, such as chemical supply rooms, electrical equipment rooms, motor control centers, etc.
- Do not use elevators during a tornado warning. Power could go off leaving you trapped in the elevator.
- Protect your head. Use pillows, helmets, hardhats, or your arms to protect from falling debris. Crouch under sturdy furniture if available.
- If outside, always seek shelter in a sturdy structure first, but if caught outdoors and shelter is not possible, lie flat in a ditch or other depression and cover your head with your arms. This is not safe. It is merely the lesser of many dangers.
- Do not seek shelter under a highway overpass or in a parking garage. These offer no protection from wind-blown debris.
- In a car, do not try to outrun the tornado. Drive to the nearest sturdy structure and shelter inside the building. If you must ride out the tornado in a car, tighten your seatbelt and crouch a low as possible (below the windows). Cover your head with your arms. This is not safe. It is merely the lesser of many dangers.
Suspicious Packages or EnvelopesToggle More Info
Receiving a bomb or dangerous package is a remote possibility, but could occur. All staff must remain alert and be prepared to act appropriately. A key point is to understand the types of letters and packages most often received, then be aware, and suspicious, of items that are out of the ordinary. The table below lists some characteristics to consider.
Package/Envelop Characteristics Labels and Markings Oily stains, discolorations, peculiar odors No return address Powder or crystallization on wrapper Return address does not match postmark Use of excessive sealing tape or string Poorly typed or handwritten address Wires, string or foil sticking out or attached Incorrect staff titles or a title without a name Not uniform thickness (lopsided or bulges) Marked with threatening language Greater than normal rigidity Misspelled words, especially common terms Heavier than usual for its size Excessive postage for the item Weight unevenly distributed Restrictive markings (confidential, etc.)
If a suspicious letter or package is received, it is critical that it be handled correctly to minimize the potential danger. Because biological or radiological contamination may not be immediately evident, persons in the immediate area should evacuate, but remain separate from each other and other evacuees to reduce the possibility of further contamination. The table below provides some additional guidance.
Do Not … Do … Do not open the item Place the item on a stable surface Do not shake or jostle the item Gently cover the item to restrict airflow around it, if possible Do not carry the item to another location Alert others in the immediate area Do not sniff, touch, taste or try to examine the contents Immediately notify your supervisor and the University Police Department Do not empty or remove the contents from the item Leave the area, close any doors and prevent others from entering the area Do not show it to others or allow others to examine it. Wash hands with soap and water to prevent spreading material to face or other areas Do not eat, drink or smoke until cleared to do so. Create a list of persons who were in the room with, or who may have handled, the item