BANGOR REGION – News of gun violence has become all too common and Thursday’s horrible school shooting in Oregon is more evidence of our changing world.
The violence that left ten people dead has become so common that it has left many people questioning their own safety. And as we discovered, it also has local colleges and universities making their own plans, in case such a thing happens here in Maine.
Area college students had various comments on how they feel. “This is a relatively small campus and i feel safe here.” to “I don’t think of us having that issue here. We have an extremely good security program here.” and “It does worry me. It does happen a lot more than it should. A lot of campuses should go further to protect students and prevent this stuff from happening.”
For some it’s no reason for big concern, but for others the violence happening at schools around the nation has left them shaken.
“It makes you reflect that although the likelihood of this happening is very small. But the fact of the matter is it could happen.” Raymond Bessette is a former Maine State Police Trooper who took over the security operation at Husson Univerity this summer. He says the university has many measures in place to help prevent such tragedies and also has plans in case it ever does. Training both staff members and students is part of it. “We’re encouraging people to occasionally think about this about what your actions would be so you would have some pre thought if it does occur.”
Ray says Husson, like many other learning institutions follow the FBI’s run, hide and fight protocols. He says it’s important to decide in those first few chaotic moments on whether it would be best to run to safety, find some place to hide or if there’s no other way to escape, stand your ground and fight. The staff at Eastern Maine Community College follow the same protocol. It has even held an active shooter symposium with local emergency crews and others so they’ll be ready.
“This is one of those, the event you don’t want to happen and this is where we put a lot of effort into training our employees. We also have a crisis intervention team which brings professionals together and talk about any behaviors that we’re seeing from students that may be dangerous to themselves or others.” Dan Belyea, EMCC Dir. Of Administrative, Student Services
It would really be hard to find any local school that doesn’t have some sort of plan in place to handle these types of emergencies. Officials from both of the campuses we visited today say it’s also important for individuals to think about how they’d react.