‘Run, hide, fight’: UAF conducts intruder training

Zack Sherman / Sun Star

University of Alaska Emergency Management, in conjunction with the UAF Police department, conducted violent aggressor training for staff of the Butrovich building on Dec. 2 that included firing blank cartridges from an AR-15 rifle inside the Board of Regents conference room. The training was based upon preparing staff on what to expect and how to react in the event of a violent intruder.

UA Emergency Management Director Greg Busch speaks to staff about mentally preparing for an incident on campus. - Zach Sherman / Sun Star

UA Emergency Management Director Greg Busch speaks to staff about mentally preparing for an incident on campus. – Zach Sherman / Sun Star

The training session was the classroom portion of a larger plan to help prepare staff for a violent intruder on campus. Focus was on not only what to do in a situation of workplace violence, but also what to expect during and after an incident. Additional elements of the training included office visits for each of the buildings suites to help staff to analyze possible escape routes, hiding places, and as a last resort improvised weapons.

“Run, hide, fight,” UA Emergency Management Director Greg Busch said. “That is the Department of Homeland Security’s stance and that is what we are recommending.”

UAF Police Department Lieutenant Kyle Carrington emphasized Busch’s point when speaking about human reactions.

“We all react to threats in one of three ways, fight, flight, or freeze.  Freezing is the only option that is unacceptable,” Carrington said. “Do something, just do something.”

Busch encouraged staff to work through what they would do and stressed mental preparedness as a key to surviving an incident. “Give some consideration of how will respond,” he said.  Instructions to mentally work through and plan responses would be repeated throughout the presentation.

Carrington conducted the bulk of the briefing and called on staff to take the time to look around their work space and recognize that it can happen here and to prepare accordingly. The information was given further emphasis when Carrington drew attention to the shooting that was happening concurrently in San Bernardino, Calif., that ultimately left 14 dead and an additional 17 injured.

The training session, including the firing of blanks indoors, was conducted four times during the week. All sessions were in preparation for a simulated violent intruder exercise to be conducted on Tuesday Dec. 8 in the Butrovich building. A tabletop exercise for the University’s incident management team to practice their planned response to an incident will wrap up the training package.

“We plan to conduct after-action reviews and implement a plan for improvement,” Busch said. “We are going to package up this program and provide it to other campuses and sites.”

“This is a testing ground for this plan,” Assistant Director of the Office of Public Affairs Kathleen Wattum said.

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