Preparing for the worst can keep you safe

Crisis Communications Class

ACC Police Chief Frankie Waller and Environmental Health and Safety Director Becky Cole lead the first tabletop scenario at the Highland Business Center.

In the 16 years Dahlia Anzaldua has worked at the Austin Community College District, crises have been few and far between, and thankfully, never the magnitude of Virginia Tech’s most recent event.

“Something like that can happen anywhere,” Anzaldua said of the university shooting carried out by a lone gunman. “I was glued to the news reports, and in the back of my mind, I just wondered if we were prepared to handle something similar.”

Anzaldua and other ACC employees now have the opportunity to learn about our current crisis management activities through campus forums and tabletop training exercises.

“No educational institution can ever sufficiently prepare for an incident similar to Virginia Tech,” said Frankie Waller, ACC Campus Police chief. “But with planned training we will definitely be able to respond quickly and effectively during such an event.”

Crisis Communications Class

Dahlia Anzaldua, right, takes notes during the tabletop scenario.

The first tabletop scenario involved a gunman at the Highland Business Center. Anzaldua participated in the training.

“It taught me that evacuation isn’t always the right thing to do, especially if there is someone with a gun inside,” she said. “I was very impressed with the exercise, and was relieved to hear about all of the steps the college is taking to respond and communicate during a crisis.”

Environmental, Health and Safety Director Becky Cole assists Chief Waller at each forum and tabletop scenario.

“During an emergency of any type, each person has a level of responsibility for their own safety,” said Cole. “By participating in scenario-type training, our employees are given the opportunity to think through what their actions might or should be in a particular situation.”

While we are preparing for Virginia Tech-type attacks, Cole said, the most common emergencies are medical calls, severe weather incidents, and smoke or fire alarms.

“We want input from all employees and students on the topics or types of training they feel would be beneficial to the emergency preparedness of ACC,” Cole said. In the meantime, staff can learn how they would act in an emergency.

“I’m pleased that we are being proactive,” Anzaldua added.

Crisis management forums are every Tuesday through late August. Tabletop scenarios are every Thursday. To register, visit the Professional Development website; professional development credit is available

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