UO holds active shooter training in wake of Ohio State attack

Students and faculty watch an active shooter response training presentation in the EMU ballroom. (Jack Pitcher/Emerald)

The University of Oregon held an active shooter training for staff and students at the EMU on Wednesday, two days after a student attacked and injured 11 at Ohio State University.

The training was intended to develop a safer campus by teaching staff and students how to watch for warning signs and respond in the event an attack does happen.

Shelly Kerr, a psychologist with the UO Counseling and Testing Center, spoke about looking for behavioral warning signs that could indicate someone is planning an attack.

“These situations rarely occur without warning signs,” Kerr said. “If you think something might be wrong, don’t stay quiet.”

Warning signs to look for include a history of anger and intimidation, an obsession with weapons, violence or previous shootings, and an “injustice collector” attitude – someone who is constantly blaming their problems on others.

However, just because a person exhibits these traits does not mean they are planning a violent attack. According to Kerr, college students often deal with stress in less effective ways than older adults, which sometimes appears as dangerous behavior. These warning signs rarely mean someone is actually planning an attack, but it is best to be safe and notify UOPD or the Dean of Students office of red flags regardless.

Kerr said that while it is important to prepare for this situation, students should not live in constant fear.

“This is still a very rare occurrence,” she said. “One incident is too many, however, and that’s why we prepare for this.”

After Kerr finished speaking, Sergeant Scott Geeting with UOPD gave a presentation on what to do if you find yourself in an active shooter situation.

The current national protocol for these situations is called “Run, Hide, Fight.” People who find themselves in an active shooting should run to safety or hide behind locked doors if possible. Otherwise, they should look for nearby objects that could be used as weapons to incapacitate the shooter.

According to Time Magazine, there were 23 shootings on college campuses in 2015. This includes the high profile shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, where nine people were killed and nine more injured.

Kerr said UO wants to have as many systems as possible in place to reduce the risk of a violent incident, though she knows the risk cannot be eliminated entirely.

“This is a shared responsibility, keeping the campus safe,” Kerr said. “With the training, we want to create confidence in your ability to survive a shooting situation.”

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