HELENA – Montana’s colleges and universities are required to develop emergency operation plans that include responding to an “active shooter” on campus, but what goes in them and how often staff and students are trained for such a situation varies from campus to campus.
Nationwide, school employees and students are asking whether campuses should do more following the shooting deaths of nine students at a community college in southern Oregon.
Because each school is unique in the size of the campus and community where it is located, Montana’s colleges and universities work with local law-enforcement to determine what should go in their plans, Montana higher education commission spokesman Kevin McRae said.
The details of the plans are not disclosed outside of law enforcement for tactical reasons, though training on the overall emergency operation plans is available through group discussions and online, McRae said.
“Emergency preparedness, including active shooter incidents, is discussed with the campus community at numerous venues throughout the year,” he said.
All of the campuses conduct drills, but they each determines what the focus of the drill will be, whether it is in response to a fire, an earthquake, a shooter or some other emergency, McRae said.
Kari Cargill, president of the Associated Faculty of Montana State University, said fire drills occur regularly on campus, and an earthquake drill is scheduled for this month, but she does not know of any active shooter drills that have been conducted.
However, most are aware of the university’s emergency alert system that allows faculty and students to quickly receive notice of any threats on or near campus, she said.
“These can include potential shooter events but other issues such as assaults, vandalism and even bears sighted on campus have been reported,” Cargill said.
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