The 5Cs and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Los Angeles Field Office hosted a TARGET (Threat Assessment ReGional Evaluation Team) meeting April 16 on Pomona College’s campus to bring together local and national emergency response teams to promote collaboration and express their intentions to work together in their efforts toward creating a safer campus, according to Pomona Dean of Students Miriam Feldblum.
Despite recent national emergencies, the colleges do not plan to change their approach to emergency preparedness, according to Dean R. Manship, the Emergency Preparedness Program Manager at the Office of Campus Safety.
“The Claremont Colleges have a very active emergency preparedness programs and are regularly reviewing plans and conducting drills and exercises,” Manship wrote in an e-mail to TSL. “We will continue to strengthen our emergency preparedness, assess and revise plans, and conduct drills and exercises.”
Approximately every four months, the FBI runs a meeting in a different location involving local law enforcement and directors from various institutions of higher education, allowing them to share ideas about public safety issues and approaches specific to educational institutions, according to Director of Campus Safety Shahram Ariane.
“We all recognize the importance of collaboration amongst us for emergency preparedness. And also, the interaction between the Claremont Colleges, local police, county police, regional law enforcement, and emergency personnel, up to the national level,” Feldblum said.
The seven institutions within the Claremont Consortium work together in most aspects of emergency preparedness, and one of the consortium’s priorities is maintaining this teamwork.
“The discussion was an overview of how our consortium works and then information about the January Active Shooter Exercise, including a panel of the organizers from LA County Fire and Sheriff’s Department,” wrote Associate Director of Facilities and Campus Services at Claremont McKenna College Marsha Tudor in an e-mail to TSL.
The meeting also provided an opportunity for the 5Cs to develop a partnership with outside organizations in order to facilitate emergency response in the future.
“If there was something happening on campus, the FBI could very well get involved, and for them to understand our system and our consortium would be really helpful if an emergency ever does arise,” Feldblum said. “That’s what’s really useful in involving Los Angeles Fire Department, Los Angeles Police Department, the FBI, FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency]. Using all these different branches gets people to know each other and get the communication started. We’ve structured our emergency response team so that it’s recognizable to national agencies.”
The meeting also allowed those involved in safety in Claremont to learn about other methods of emergency preparedness, according to Feldblum, who said that information from conferences, external speakers, and government safety organizations all play a role in continually improving the colleges’ safety systems.
One topic highlighted at the meeting was time taken to transport those in need to the hospital, according to Tudor. Discussion regarding changing protocols for rescue workers in areas of mass casualty came up at the meeting, in addition to changing guidelines for on-site first aid procedures.
According to Feldblum, a number of students gathered outside of the meeting and questioned its motives, but she and Vice President for Student Affairs at Pitzer College Jim Marchant were able to give the students a copy of the meeting’s agenda in order to answer their questions. On March 25, all 5C students were alerted about the FBI meeting taking place, according to Ariane.
According to Assistant Vice President of Facilities and Emergency Preparedness at Harvey Mudd College Theresa Lauer, each of the five colleges maintains emergency preparedness programs that follow guidelines and recommendations by California’s Standardized Emergency Management System and the National Incident Management System. Because of this, the systems are largely the same, with possible differences in the manner in which training and drills are conducted.
The most recent drill held through collaboration between all 7Cs was the second active shooter drill this year, held April 9, used in order to test shelter-in-place procedures, in addition to focusing on methods of ensuring that the injured survive, according to Tudor.
“This exercise addressed this from two directions. One was the types of immediate treatments being done that focus on reducing loss of blood, the other was on getting the paramedics into the area faster and then transported faster once the injured have been removed from the scene,” Tudor wrote in an e-mail to TSL.
Students from the colleges were encouraged by their respective college administration to participate in the drill, and information about how to take proper safety precautions was distributed through e-mail.
“The importance of coordinating with the other colleges cannot be overstated, the Active Shooter Exercise was highly beneficial for many reasons but this was one of the most significant. Everyone involved agreed that much was learned from the process,” Tudor wrote.
The drill provided an opportunity for Pomona to test its new speaker alert system, which was put in place about a year ago and can be heard throughout campus in the event of an emergency. Feldblum said that one way in which all of the colleges are improving their emergency preparedness is by increasing opportunities for emergency response training, including basic first aid, Community Emergency Response Training, and Wilderness First Responder training. Pomona has begun to use students who have already been trained—such as Resident Advisers, sponsors, On the Loose Leaders, Orientation Adventure Leaders, and lifeguards—as emergency response team members, according to Feldblum.
“Now that we’ve trained more students and faculty in emergency response, we’re at a huge advantage, and I think that there’s been an increase in training and dedicating resources to emergency response across the board [at all of the 7Cs],” Feldblum said. “We also need more training, more awareness, more preparation. There’s still more to do.”