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Are You Prepared? A Review of Campus Safety Procedures

For many of our undergraduate students, fire drills, tornado drills and lock down drills have been part of school since kindergarten. As adults, the focus of emergency training shifts to personal safety planning – a lifelong habit that can begin today. If there is an emergency on campus, do you know what to do?

When there is an imminent threat on campus, the Department of Public Safety will immediately issue a UST ALERT to the community. (Click here to sign up.) A UST ALERT will send text, email and phone messages to registered numbers and also post to Facebook, Twitter, OneStThomas and the website The alert will include the type of emergency and reported location.

Watch a video of St. Thomas active shooter training here. 

Safety procedures at St. Thomas

St. Thomas’ emergency response protocol is adapted from the Department of Homeland Security protocols for an active shooter: "Run. Hide. Fight." The same foundational protocols will be used by students’ future employers and are protocols every adult can adapt for personal safety in everyday life. But what does "Run. Hide. Fight." mean? What does it look like? WATCH this 10-minute training video, so you are better prepared if an emergency occurs.

  • Be aware of your environment and any possible dangers.
  • Take note of the two nearest exits in any facility you visit. Where could you RUN?
  • If you are in an office, do you know how to secure or barricade the door? Where might you HIDE?
  • If you cannot flee, what could you use to FIGHT? Your chance of survival is much greater if you try to incapacitate an aggressor or shooter.
  • Do you know how to contact authorities and share your location?

In the event of any emergency, call Public Safety at (651) 962-5555 or call 911.

Not in high school anymore

Most students who enter college from high school are conditioned to think “lock down” in a dangerous situation. That is because since 2006, Minnesota statute has required K-12 schools to conduct at least five lock down drills, five fire drills and one tornado drill each year — that’s 20 lock down drills just during high school.

A university campus is very different from a high school. The physical setting is more like a neighborhood, a city or an outdoor mall. Cities rarely use lockdowns. Unlike a high school, which is a contained building with controlled access and an adult responsible for minors, a university campus has many buildings spanning many blocks with many adults coming and going on different schedules. Each person and group needs to think about their personal safety plan in a variety of locations. For students, it requires a shift in thinking: from adults protecting children to each person now being responsible for their personal safety. And if you are a leader in any situation (an instructor, manager or student leader), do you know how to help those who would follow your lead during an emergency?

Prepare now

1. Can you picture yourself in a"Run. Hide. Fight." scenario? Watch this VIDEO to help you visualize how to respond.
2. Print off this quick reference guide and post it in your area.
3. Have you signed up for St. Thomas emergency alerts? Sign up here. You can add additional phone numbers for parents or partners to receive the same alerts.
4. Is Public Safety’s number saved in your phone contacts, in case you have to call quickly? For emergencies, call (651) 962-5555; for nonemergencies, call (651) 962-5100.
[Note, during an emergency only call with important information. Too many calls will overwhelm our systems.]

The time to think about how you would respond in a dangerous situation is BEFORE it’s needed.

We live in an era that has seen a spike in mass shooting incidents over the last 10 years. Movie theaters, concert venues, nightclubs, workplaces, universities and places of worship have all experienced mass shootings. Undergraduates enrolled today (born in the late 1990s) are intensely alert to the reality of mass shootings and gun violence, because such reports have been part of their news feed since the 1999 Columbine tragedy. They expect the adults around them to be equally aware.

Use this reminder as a catalyst to talk with students, friends and colleagues about safety plans. While we pray that nothing terrible happens in our lives, being prepared is the best way to mitigate risk and stay safe.

How St. Thomas prepares

The University Action and Response Team at St. Thomas oversees the mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery of crisis situations. The team reviews and updates emergency procedures annually, conducts tabletop training exercises and are called together when emergencies arise. Additional crisis resources are available on the St. Thomas Cares website.

The Department of Public Safety is available to assist any department or team in emergency response planning specific to your area. Please contact Public Safety Director Dan Meuwissen for assistance.

At St. Thomas, everyone plays a role in keeping our campus safe and being prepared for emergencies.