Uni emergencies and how to respond to them

Knowing what to do in the case of a tornado, fire, and an active threat is of utmost importance. According to Business Manager Mike Adams, implementing drills into our schedule on certain days is important because “any time you practice something it helps.” 

In case of a tornado, Uni students are expected to proceed to the Digital Computer Lab’s basement or take cover in Uni’s halls once the siren goes off. According to the Emergency Response Guide, if you are in Uni’s halls when this happens, crouch down and protect your neck and head. The best thing to do when outside is to seek refuge in the nearest sturdy building.

Assistant Director for Student Life Karl Radnitzer and Adams saw the recent tornado as a way to practice what we know in a real-life scenario. Both felt that everyone, including the new subfreshman, all followed directions quickly. There were technical difficulties with the system that would usually tell us what was going on, forcing Adams to go through a sign-in process. Adams admitted to accidentally pressing the drill button rather than the button that signifies that it’s not a drill out of habit. Another thing that was out of our control was oncoming traffic which Adams stopped as we ran across to the Digital Computer Lab (DCL), 

If there is a fire at Uni, the Emergency Response Guide explains that the best thing you can do is evacuate quickly but in an orderly fashion. Don’t stop to take everything from your locker and clog the hallways. On the other hand, don’t sprint towards the exit with your friends. Stampeding will definitely make things worse during a fire! Make sure to alert authorities of the fire and of any people that may need assistance. If you find yourself caught in smoke, crouch down and cover your nose and mouth with your shirt and breathe through your nose. 

When it comes down to having the equipment to deal with fires, such as fire extinguishers and blankets, Uni is very well prepared, containing up-to-date fire extinguishers throughout the building. According to Radnitzer during our fire drill last year, everyone evacuated the building in “just under two minutes”. 

Unfortunately, in this day and age, we have to be aware of active threats. In the case that an active threat is on campus, according to the Emergency Response Guide, the best thing to do is remain calm. Three of the most important things to do are hide, run, and fight. Close, lock, and barricade doors with anything you can find. Never open the door unless a reliable source such as Illini Alert signifies that the threat is over. When in hiding, stay quiet. The best way to alert a threat of your location is making loud, unnecessary noise. If you are in the restroom, Radnitzer advised to lock the stall and stand on the toilet seat. If you have the opportunity, run as far away from the threat as you can. Being aware of your exit choices is crucial.

 During our recent active threat drill, Radnitzer expressed that one thing that was a problem during the drill was people coming inside the building during the drill without knowing what was going on. Both Adams and Radnitzer stressed the importance of Prox Cards and not letting people who don’t have a Prox Card inside the building. Sometimes, people’s prox cards get disabled because they may be a potential threat. So, for everyone’s safety, it’s best to let people enter from the main entrance. When letting people in at the main entrance, Adams explained how it’s important to use good judgement. Paying attention to how people are dressed, how they act, and what they’re doing is key. 

An active threat, tornado, or fire can strike us all at any minute so it’s important that as a school, we are all prepared to act. For more information on all types of emergencies, check the Emergency Response Guide located in every room.