Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Ops Center: Keeping communication lines open

Public Relations staff at Augustana College confer in the active shooter drill operations center at the Gerber Center on April 26.

Communication between officials, victims, and emergency crews can break down quickly during a chaotic active shooter situation. The campus community of Augustana College practiced this scenario in Tuesday’s active shooter drill. During the drill, a campus operations center was set up to make sure everything ran smoothly.
The operations center served as the central hub for Augustana’s communication during the drill. Augustana’s deans, public relations officers, campus ministries staff and even the president convened in a single room at the college’s Gerber Center shortly after the drill began. The center was briefed about the shooting situation at the scene and Evelyn Campbell, dean of students, began assigning duties.  Large lists were kept on the walls to keep track of who had been contacted and what duties had been performed.
Laura Schnack, associate dean of students, said this was the first drill of this scale she’d participated in, but just  as in every emergency, keeping students safe was the first priority.
“Safety is our number one priority, in trying to address all of our student population on campus and supporting them in the best way we can,” said Schnack.
Steve Bahls, president of Augustana College, addressed the operations center after a simulating briefing that 15 students were killed and 30 students were injured. He said the college should spare no expense in pursuing options for campus safety in the aftermath of a shooting, whether simulated or real.
“Let us do what is right: expense should not be a factor, let’s do what we need to do keep this campus safe,” said Bahls.
Public safety staff from other colleges were also at the operations center to observe the drill. Shawn Cisna, Black Hawk College police chief, said the operations center organization would work well in a real active shooting.
“That way, you can identify the areas where you need to disseminate that information without having to track someone down, get it to the table, let the table take care of the issue, and handle that information accordingly,” said Cisna.
About 500 Augustana students, emergency crews from both sides of the Mississippi and six hospitals participated in the drill. While the college conducts active shooter exercises, a large-scale drill is performed every two years.
For more stories on the active shooter drill, click here.

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Ops Center: Keeping communication lines open