A slew of colleges and universities across the nation have received bomb threats this month, including two Austin Community College (ACC) campuses. On Thursday, July 7, 2022, ACC police evacuated both the Round Rock and South Austin campuses while officers investigated the threats. No devices were found, and the campuses reopened without incident.
In light of the recent events, ACC’s Emergency Management team provides a refresher on the college’s evacuation procedures.
“Our top priority is to provide a safe and secure environment where everyone can learn and work,” says Chief Lynn Dixon, ACC District Police Department. “Everyone has a responsibility for their own safety and security. It’s up to each of us to know what steps we can take if an emergency happens on our campus. That means knowing the information and familiarizing yourself with the resources that are available. In an emergency, you want to know your role and have a plan.”
The first step is to know what to look for and how to report any suspicious activity.
Reporting & Response Procedures
If you receive a bomb threat, by phone or in written format, or if you discover a suspicious package get as much information as you can and call 911 as soon as possible. Do not touch suspicious packages.
Any threat or use of an explosive device, a biological agent or a chemical agent as a weapon is a federal crime and will be investigated by the police and the FBI.
- Move away from the item as soon as possible.
- Notify ACC Police Dispatch and provide as much information about the item as possible.
If a threat is made or a suspicious package is reported or discovered on campus, ACC Police will implement its response procedure with other law enforcement agencies, as needed.
ACC Police response is designed to maximize your safety. Information will be provided to you using some or all of the emergency communication systems.
- The situation may be dynamic, therefore follow the instructions provided to you via ACC Emergency Alert, law enforcement official, or campus emergency coordinator.
- Stay where you are until specific instructions to evacuate are provided. Take all your belongings with you unless instructed differently.
Building Evacuation Procedure
- You are responsible for your own safety, but you also have a responsibility to others. Stay calm.
- When the fire alarm sounds, or when otherwise directed, LEAVE THE BUILDING, and make sure other people in your immediate area are aware of the need to evacuate. Where possible, stay together and account for those in your group.
- Close but DO NOT LOCK doors as you leave. Take valuables with you (if in the same room) but leave large bags behind. Turn off unnecessary equipment if possible.
- Know the locations of primary and alternate exits. During an emergency, walk to the nearest safe exit and evacuate the building. Do not use the elevators during a fire- or weather-related emergency. If you are in an unfamiliar area, follow the exit signs to the nearest safe exit.
- Use an Area of Rescue Assistance if you cannot use the stairs. Make sure your location is known to a campus emergency coordinator. Specialized assistance and rescue will be performed by Fire Department personnel.
- Once outside, go to your assigned rally point as marked on your emergency egress map. Report to your Instructor or Supervisor/Manager. Try to account for everyone in your group. Report those missing to an emergency coordinator. Do not leave the area unless you are told to do so.
- Emergency coordinators (persons in orange vests) are available to provide assistance and respond to unforeseen problems. Follow their instructions.
- DO NOT RE-ENTER THE BUILDING until you have been notified by the administrator-in-charge to do so. First responders often silence the alarm in order to communicate with each other. Silencing the alarm is NOT a signal for occupants to re-enter.
Additional Responsibilities for Faculty and Supervisors / Managers
In addition to the above, you have specific responsibilities to your group. Spend 5 minutes, at the beginning of the semester or in a staff meeting, to review how you will work together to effectively implement emergency procedures.
- To the extent possible, stay with and guide your group to the nearest safe exit.
- If a person cannot use the stairs, it is your responsibility to direct or assist them to an area of rescue assistance and provide details of their location to an emergency coordinator. Do not use elevators in a fire-, weather- or bomb threat-related emergency.
- At the rally point, account for those in your group and be able to report their status to an emergency coordinator.
- Encourage your group to stay together at the rally point to avoid traffic chaos and related safety issues.
- Assist with injury reports and workers’ compensation claims as appropriate.
- Ensure you are properly registered to receive ACC Emergency Alerts.
- Know the location of emergency equipment in your area.
- Study the Emergency Egress Map posted in your area BEFORE an emergency. The Emergency Egress Plan identifies the area’s emergency exits, areas of rescue assistance, AEDs (automated external defibrillators), shelter-in-place locations for severe weather, and evacuation rally point locations. They are posted in classrooms, many offices, and some public spaces. Emergency Egress Maps are not available online.