Emergency posters encourage campus safety

They’re hard to miss, which is the point.

They read, “Emergency Procedures” and “How to Defend Against an Active Shooter.” Public safety mounted these posters around campus just before the spring semester began, under the direction of Johnson’s College Crisis Response Team (CCRT).

“Throughout the last couple of years, events happened nationally and people asked questions [about campus safety],” Michael Palagonia, the director of public safety and chair of CCRT, said. “For a while, we’ve wanted to put something up to provide that information.”

“You want people to be prepared, and people want to know what to do if [a mass casualty event] happens,” Palagonia continued. “It’s important to have that information. We don’t want to panic, obviously, but we want to provide information because you never know.”

After the CCRT reviewed their options, George Hacking, Lyndon State’s public safety director, provided the templates used for the posters on the Lyndon campus, and JSC’s are nearly identical, with the exception of the JSC logo and the phone numbers. Palagonia said that he knows at least three out of four colleges in the VSC have similar posters. This isn’t a new practice; Lyndon has had theirs for a couple of years.

“I think that they kind of freak people out a little bit,” said Silas Mader, a sophomore majoring in outdoor education. “They weren’t here one second and then all of a sudden they were everywhere. People notice them, for sure.”

He also suggested that the posters were just common sense. “I think everyone pretty much knows if someone is in a building with a gun, there’s three options,” he said. “You can’t do anything else.”

Palagonia said the idea was to grab people’s attention, not to disturb or frighten anyone. The bright red and yellow colors were designed to get people to look at it, read it and hopefully retain some of the information in the case of an emergency. “I would encourage people, if they haven’t read through [the posters], to do that, to take a look at them and try to familiarize themselves with the content,” Palagonia said.

Alyssa Radcliffe, a senior majoring in creative writing, shared Palagonia’s view. “They didn’t disturb me too much, especially with what’s been going on around the country,” she said. “I think it’s better that we have them rather than not be prepared if something happens.”

CCRT will hold a campus safety information session on March 28, which will overlap in content with some of the subjects on the posters. “One of the topics [of the information session], like those posters, will be about mass casualty events like a shooter,” Palagonia said. “We’ll also cover other things, including general fire safety, bomb threats—kind of touch on a bunch of what’s on that poster.”

CCRT has completed other tasks, like installing a new automated external defibrillator in Dibden. In June, also, they’re organizing a session to teach people how to train others in active shooter civilian response, ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate).

“Of course, if anyone has questions, I’m happy to talk to anyone,” Palagonia said, adding that any of the public safety officers can also field questions.