Sunday, January 11, 2009

Drill, Baby, Drill — community college style

The following is a glimpse into either a) weird goings-on at Portland Community College or b) a terrifying sign of the times (in more ways than one).

Note that what was once called an "Active Shooter" drill, a vivid term, is now called a "Lockdown" drill.

One can only guess why the name was changed. One grammatical reason is that there is no such thing as an "inactive" shooter so "active shooter" is redundant.

Another is that the whole "shooter" bit could discourage enrollment.

"Lockdown," on the other hand, is a prison term. Of course prisons are now called "correctional facilities," and, in a sense, community colleges are "correctional facilities."

I know I do a fair amount of correcting in my writing class.

Anyway, at 10:30 a.m. Monday, you might give a kindly passing thought to the alarms going off at PCC. Fortunately, I teach on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I'm not going anywhere near the place on Monday.

Here's the campus memo with a smattering of snide, bracketed, and probably uncalled-for comments from a hypercritical, underpaid adjunct faculty member:

Lockdown Drills/Winter Term 2009
Information Sheet

What: Sylvania Campus will hold its winter term Lockdown drills (formerly called “Active Shooter” drills) on Monday. The drills are an opportunity [You got to love these "opportunities."] to practice a non-evacuation emergency and are DIFFERENT than [Correctional facility note: The writer means "from."] fire alarm/evacuation drills.

When: The alarm will be sounded, and everyone on campus will participate in the Lockdown drills. Our campus will hold two Lockdown drills during the second week of the winter term. Following are the confirmed details [Are there unconfirmed details?]:

Date: Monday, Jan. 12
Times: 10:30 a.m., and again at 7 p.m.

Please note – there will NOT be a Saturday drill. [How about Thursday?]

Why: The campus will practice the recommended Lockdown procedures [would it practice unrecommended procedures?] so that in the event of an actual [as opposed to a fantasy one?] emergency, students, faculty and staff will be prepared. Preparation saves lives. Preparation requires us to think in advance about what we would do to protect ourselves and others. Our goals are to:

• Determine whether Sylvania’s Lockdown alarm works and is reasonably [as opposed to unreasonably?] audible in all locations;
• Familiarize those on campus of the alert sound; and
• Educate those on campus of the first actions they should take when the alarm sounds and practice those actions.

Where: All buildings and all common areas will participate in the drills. [Actually people, not the buildings and areas will participate.]

How: The alert will sound for approximately three minutes on the day and times listed above. There will NOT be an "all clear" signal. The silencing of the alert constitutes the "all clear" for these drills. In the event of a real emergency situation, the alarm would continue to sound until there was absolute certainty [simple certainty should do it] that the situation had been rectified. [The situation, remember, is an "active shooting." Let's not go to what "rectifying" might mean.]

We want faculty, staff and students to know in advance that these drills will happen [If you let someone know something will happen; by definition you do it "in advance"], to know why we are conducting them, and what they are expected to do during the drills. Some students (for example, those with post traumatic stress disorder) may be adversely affected [IE. be freaked out] by the sound of the alert and talk of “a Lockdown drill.” For these students, it is important to discuss the drills in advance and to let them know our Counseling Center is prepared to help them if they feel the need. Its telephone number is (503) 977-4531 or 4936. [As if these students don't have enough problems as is.]

If you are an instructor, please notify your students of the drills in a class period prior to the day of the drills. Inform them of the drills’ purpose and what actions you will be asking them to perform when the Lockdown alarm sounds. Special care should be taken to inform and care for the needs of deaf students, students with mobility issues [This happens a lot. Dead batteries. Lost keys. Traffic jams.] and students with limited English language abilities. [Say again?]

As part of the drill, ALL Sylvania employees will proceed as follows:

• If you are in a classroom, lab or office, you will direct others (students or campus visitors) within that space to conceal and cover [This is hard to visualize. Blankets? Camouflage netting? Helmets with twigs stuck on them? See below for details.] and then do the same yourself.
• If you are in an indoor, non-classroom, student or public gathering area (such as the CC Mall), Building and Floor Monitors [lower case, please] will direct all employees, students and campus visitors to the safest place possible and direct them to conceal and cover. You will cooperate in this process.
• If you are in an outside area, Sylvania Campus deans [you need a PhD. and a six-figure salary for this outdoor work] will direct others (students or campus visitors) to seek a safe area and conceal and cover, then do the same themselves. You will cooperate in this process. [Unless, of course, you are "adversely affected"]

Conceal and cover means to do the following:

• Remain in your office/work area;
• Close the door and turn off all lights;
• Lock the outside door to your office/workspace (if you have a key) or use (furniture/ other means to barricade the door, if possible);
• Shut all window blinds and/or curtains;
• Stay away from doors and windows and stay as low to the ground as possible; and
• Keep quiet and act as if no one is in the room or office.

What’s next: The campus will conduct drills at least two times each year to ensure we are prepared to act in the event of a Lockdown situation. In addition, unannounced fire alarm/evacuation drills will be held so that we can practice for these kinds of emergencies [What kinds of emergencies? We have what the grammarians call a "reference" problem here.] and learn to distinguish between the two different types of emergency alarms. [Remember that alarm in January? Well, try this one! EEEEEEEEEurrrrrEEEEEEEEurrrr etc.]

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Today on Campus a man was threatning to shoot himself. Police were called and they searched campus unable to find the man. This is why we have drills. Workers knew to put all students in a safe room in the very back with no windows. This is NOT a joke! Laugh all you want, but when someone comes out saying they are going to shoot themselves, the right things were done to take precautions. Do not laugh or make fun as if it doesnt happen. Cause today it did!

1:32 PM  
Blogger Sparrow said...

I was on campus today during the lockdown. I have to disagree somewhat with the anonymous comment. Where I was there was only confusion. We had no idea if it was a fire alarm or a "lockdown" and ended up deciding it was a fire drill. A whole group of us went to the middle of an outside area that we later found out was in a straight, open line from directly around the corner of where the actual gunman was. Thankfully the situation was "rectified" peacefully.

At any rate, I found this blog post very amusing (perhaps partially because I'm also a grammar nerd). It's not the drills that are the problem, but the wording and attitude of the school. I think we need a few more drills and better trained staff (or something) before I can agree that the "right precautions" were taken.

12:20 AM  

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