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2016 annual notice on campus safety, emergency notification reports

September 20, 2016

This information is required by law and provided by the Virginia Tech Police Department and the Virginia Tech Office of Emergency Management.

Virginia Tech is committed to assisting all members of the university community in providing for their own safety and security. 

The Annual Campus Security and Fire Safety Report (main campus) is available on the Virginia Tech Police Department website. Extended campus compliance reports are available on the same website. To request a paper copy of the report, stop by the police department office in the Public Safety Building or call 540-231-6183 to request that a paper copy be mailed to you.

The website and report contain information regarding campus safety and personal safety including topics such as: crime prevention, fire safety, Virginia Tech Police law enforcement authority, crime reporting policies, student conduct procedures, and other matters of importance related to safety and security on campus, including evacuation and emergency notification and response procedures. 

The report also contains information about crime statistics for the three previous calendar years concerning reported crimes that occurred on campus; in certain off-campus buildings or property owned or controlled by Virginia Tech; and on public property within or immediately adjacent to and accessible from the campus.

Emergency preparedness and response

Emergency preparedness guidance for what to do in an emergency can be found on the Emergency Preparedness...It's Every Hokies' Responsibility! flyer or the Individual Emergency Preparedness brochure.

More in-depth information is contained in the Virginia Tech Emergency Information Desk Reference. The desk reference provides response guidance for students, employees, and visitors for many emergency scenarios. 

In an emergency it is important to remember three important things:

  • do not take unnecessary risks
  • there is no substitute for remaining calm
  • always use good judgment.

Additional information can be found on the Office of Emergency Management and Police Department websites.

Virginia Tech policy 5615, "University Safety and Security" describes the authorities and responsibilities to carry out programs and operations that promote safety and security of individuals and property and establishes an operational committee for coordination and oversight of university safety and security policies and procedures. It provides an overview of existing university safety and security policies and programs that demonstrate compliance with Sections 23-9.2:9-11 of the Code of Virginia and the Higher Education Act of 1965 as amended.

The policy establishes the Safety and Security Committee which, serves as a coordinating and policy body, with responsibilities for establishing the framework for an overarching university safety, emergency management, and security program for all Virginia Tech facilities. The Safety and Security Policy Committee provides direction in making strategic policy decisions for any incident that impacts the university’s ability to perform its critical business functions. The Crisis Emergency Management Plan is written as an all-hazard plan providing guidance for the response to and recovery from an emergency.

Emergency notification

The Virginia Tech Emergency Notification System (called VT Alerts) is used to reach students and employees during an emergency situation. Outdoor sirens, loudspeakers, and phone and desktop alerts are some components of the system.

VT Alerts are shared in the following ways:

  • Virginia Tech homepage
  • Broadcast emails
  • Electronic message boards in classrooms
  • A recorded message on the weather/emergency hotline
  • Outdoor campus sirens and loudspeakers (not intended to penetrate into building interiors)
  • University switchboard
  • VT Phone Alerts (registration required)
  • VT Desktop Alerts (registration required)
  • Twitter @vtalerts

When you receive a VT Alert, share the information with others.

How to receive VT Phone or Desktop Alerts: To receive VT Phone Alert and/or VT Desktop Alert, you must register at www.alerts.vt.edu.

What to do if you hear a campus outdoor siren? When the sirens are activated, remain calm, move inside a building, follow any audible instructions, and check for additional information via other VT Alerts channels. You may be advised to either:

  • Secure-in-place, place a locked door or other barricade between you and the associated violence or danger.
  • Shelter-in-place, move inside to a building space that protects you from the risk, do not lock doors so others are able to enter.

Note: Tests of the campus warning sirens are conducted each semester and are publicized through regular news outlets on campus in advance of the test.

Secure-in-place

When it is necessary to secure-in-place, you will be the safest by placing a locked door or other barricade between you and the associated violence or danger.

How do I secure-in-place?

  • Remain calm.
  • If you are outside during a secure-in-place emergency, you should seek cover in the nearest unlocked building.
  • If the buildings in the immediate area have exterior doors that have been locked, continue to move away from the danger, seek cover, move to another building, or leave campus if it is safe to do so.
  • Once inside, find an interior room and lock or barricade the doors.
  • To minimize vulnerability, turn off lights, silence phones, draw blinds, and move away from windows.
  • Await further instruction from VT Alerts and emergency personnel.
  • Do not leave until an “all clear” is received.

What if someone wants to enter a secure area? If there is any doubt about the safety of the individuals inside the room or building, the area needs to remain secure. Allowing someone to enter a secure location may endanger you and others. Use good judgment.

If there are individuals outside the secured door who wish to get in, several factors should be considered to determine if it is safe:

  • Can you see the area outside the door to determine that someone is not lying in wait? Is it a trap?
  • If a physical description of the subject was given in the secure-in-place alert, consider similarities such as age, race, clothing description, height, weight, sex, and hair and eye color.

If the decision is made to let a person in, consider the following:

  • Have the person leave anything he or she is carrying (a backpack, laptop case, package, etc.) on the ground, outside of the secure area.
  • Have the subject lift up his or her shirt, coat, and/or jacket until the waistline is visible and rotate 360 degrees to see if he or she is concealing a weapon.

Remember, always use good judgment. There are exceptions to all guidance and prescribed directions.

Shelter-in-place

Shelter-in-place events are usually weather-related emergencies. When it is necessary to shelter-in-place, you will be safest by moving inside to a building space that protects you from the danger. Do not lock doors behind you as others may also need to shelter-in-place.

How do I shelter-in-place?

  • Remain calm.
  • Immediately seek shelter inside the closest sturdy building. Do not wait until you physically see a tornado or severe weather event to react.
  • Resist the temptation to go outside and check the weather conditions yourself.
  • Once inside, stay away from windows, glass, and unsecured objects that may fall.
  • Seek shelter in interior rooms and corridors.
  • Avoid large free-standing expanses, such as auditoriums and gymnasiums.
  • Do not use elevators.
  • Await further instruction from VT Alerts and emergency personnel.
  • Do not leave until an “all clear” is received.

During a tornado, seek shelter on the lowest level possible. If warranted, consider crouching near the floor and seeking additional shelter under a sturdy desk or table, or cover your head with your hands.

Remember, always use good judgment. There are exceptions to all guidance and prescribed directions.

Weather definitions

Watch: Conditions are favorable for the development of severe weather. Closely monitor the situation in case it gets worse.

Warning: Severe weather has actually been observed. Listen closely to instructions provided by weather radios/emergency officials.

Evacuation

Before an emergency requiring evacuation: In advance, locate the nearest exit from your work location and determine the route you will follow to reach that exit in an emergency. Establish an alternate route to be used in the event your route is blocked or unsafe.

During an evacuation: If time and conditions permit, secure your workplace and take with you important personal items that are easily accessible — such as car keys, purse, medication, and glasses. Read and understand the following steps:

  • Follow instructions from emergency personnel.
  • Check doors for heat before opening and if the door is hot, do not open it.
  • Walk, do not run, push, or crowd. Use handrails in stairwells and stay to the right.
  • Keep noise to a minimum so you can hear emergency instructions.
  • Assist people with disabilities.
  • Unless otherwise instructed, move quickly away from the building toward an assembly point.
  • Watch for falling glass and other debris.
  • Keep roadways and walkways clear for emergency vehicles.
  • If you have relocated away from the building, do not return until notified that it is safe.

Evacuation of individuals with disabilities: For more information on this topic, students should contact Services for Students with Disabilities and employees should contact the Department of Human Resources. You should take into consideration that there might be someone near you who could need help during an evacuation. Remember, the best way to help someone during an evacuation is to first consult with that person regarding how best to assist.

Additional resources

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