By Jake Tiger
IN response to the shelter-in-place on April 3, Rider is offering 10 emergency preparedness training sessions in Rue Auditorium, with the goal of better equipping the community for hostile intruder and active shooter scenarios.
A training session led by Capt. Matthew Babcock, assistant director of Public Safety, and David Burns, commander of emergency management and preparedness, was held at 2 p.m. on April 17.
“The biggest piece to come out of this whole incident that happened was the educational component, and that’s what we recognized right away,” Babcock said during the training. “We approved these 10 sessions right away. The plan is to get these into all the new employee orientations … present the same information, as well as new student orientations.”
During the session, Babcock and Burns broke down the “Run, Hide, Fight” approach, “trusting your gut” and having a “survival mindset” in the time it takes for law enforcement to arrive and neutralize the threat.
“Basically, what we’re saying is prepare for the next 10 minutes,” said Burns. “Protect your own safety and security, develop a survival mindset and be aware.”
More information on the “Run, Hide, Fight” method can be found on Rider’s website within the Emergency Response Tips page.
The officers also covered Public Safety’s three phone numbers and their purposes, including the department’s Bronc Safety Services, non-emergency and emergency lines.
During on-campus emergencies, Public Safety stressed the importance of calling its emergency line (609-896-7777), not 911, and to never assume that someone has already called in the emergency.
According to Burns, 911 calls go through multiple redirections before they reach the local police department, resulting in a slower response time compared to Public Safety’s emergency line, which goes straight to Rider’s dispatch center.
“If you’re going to use your cell phone to call 911, there will be some time delay,” said Burns. “If you have to call 911 in an emergency, use the 7777 number, which comes right into public safety.”
Babcock stated that Public Safety’s dispatch center received 257 calls during the 52-minute shelter-in-place. Burns added that the phone lines became “locked up” due to the volume of calls. Going forward, the department plans to be better equipped for emergency situations and influx of calls they coincide with.
“We don’t want to miss any valuable information because it’s difficult for us to pick up the phone and utilize that PA system,” said Burns. “That’s one of the areas we recognize we need to develop, and we’re working on getting more telephone lines into our dispatch center to free up the phones when we need them.”
According to Burns and Babcock, Rider plans to hold a hostile intruder/active shooter drill during the second week of January 2024 to better prepare the community for situations like the shelter-in-place on April 3.
Public Safety is looking for 150 students, staff and faculty to volunteer for the drill next January, but as of now, the drill is still being planned. Later this year, Public Safety plans to send out an informational email about the drill with ways to volunteer.
“[We have] large-scale drills coming up,” said Babcock. “We do plan on building out the training component of this, much larger than what you’re seeing here. This would just be phase one.”
The next training session is on April 20 at 10 a.m., with four more to follow in the final weeks of the semester. Online registration is required.