UTSAPD aims to prevent tragedy


As of fall 2009, the UTSA Police Department plans to complete distribution of a new “Community Emergency Response Guide” across the UTSA Tri-campus community.

The guide is a reference book designed to provide students, faculty and visitors with emergency phone contacts, procedures and medical instruction.

“It is a tool that can be used in an emergency to mitigate the situation or find solutions,” Donovan Agans, director of business continuity and emergency management office, said.

The guide not only covers the usual stop-drop-and-roll procedures, but it also illustrates a variety of scenarios that have become more relevant in recent years, such as gunfire, suspicious packages, explosions and hostage situations.

Aside from researching the emergency resources of other universities, Agans also collaborated with the office of environmental health, safety and risk management and student health and counseling services to ensure that the guide’s content was up-to-date and covered a wider range of emergency situations.

Agans discovered that most universities used one or more methods of supplying emergency information, but it was oftentimes hard to find during a crisis.

“We basically took the best of everything and combined into one simple guide,” Agans said.

Using grant money from the UT System, Agans and his team produced 4,000 guides, at $2.50 each, plus the cost of supplies to mount the guides to the walls.

The emergency guides will be placed in every UTSA classroom, office suite, lab and resident suite. An electronic copy of the guide is also available on the UTSA Police Department Web site.

“We studied floor plans, walked through buildings and, like with fire extinguishers, found the central, most communal areas to place the guides,” Agans said.

The orange and blue spiral-bound booklets are designed to be used quickly and efficiently. Topics are separated in tabs and categorized using bold, white letters. When the tab is opened for a specific topic, the reader is given an explanation or procedure for that particular situation.

For instance, if a person encounters a “Gunfire/ Shooter/ Hostage” situation, the guide says the person should first:

“Figure Out- Quickly assess the circumstances, and Get Out- If an easily accessible safe way out of the area is possible”.

If these options are unavailable, the person should consider calling out to emergency responders, finding a hiding place, keeping a safe distance, spreading out to avoid creating large targets, or if all else fails-“taking out” the aggressor.

“I think the emergency guides are a great idea,” Amanda Williams, UTSA professor of English, said. “There is a small amount of comfort in knowing that these guides are so readily accessible. Any additional steps the university can take to help ensure the safety of its students, faculty and staff should be eagerly accepted.”

But some students are questioning how effective the guide will be in an situation.

“The idea makes sense, but seems unrealistic to me. If someone is shooting, who is going to take the time to stop and read a guide for instructions? It just doesn’t seem plausible in that type of situation,” Nicole Beltran, senior English major, said.