When it comes to campus safety it can take an entire university. Part of the role of police at The University of Texas Medical Branch is to provide students and staff with the knowledge and skills needed to identify potentially dangerous situations and protect themselves.
UTMB’s police department has several initiatives promoting campus safety including a course teaching women how to defend themselves from an assailant and how to survive an active shooter situation.
“An essential component of staying healthy is staying safe and we would like to make sure that all students know what to do if they find themselves in danger,” said Dr. Falanda Limar, UTMB’s student health medical director.
Recent mass shootings remind everyone that safety is not something to be taken lightly and proof that tragedies can happen anywhere.
It is important to have a plan and know how to react if you find yourself in a similar situation. It’s usually only after a shooting that people ask themselves: what would I do if it happened to me?
In the event of an active shooter on campus, UTMB police promote a concept endorsed by Homeland Security called, Run, Hide, Fight. It is a different approach to dealing with active shooter situations than previously taught when people were instructed not to interfere.
The most important thing is to pay attention. Police advise people to be aware of their surroundings and to locate the two nearest exits in case they need to get out fast.
If evacuation is not possible, finding a place to hide is important. Look for some place out of the shooter’s view that will protect you if shots are fired in your direction. If possible, lock the door and block it with any heavy furniture or other items that may be available.
During an actual event, police will be rushing to the scene, but if fighting becomes necessary, throw items, yell and scream, work with each other as a team and act as aggressively as possible.
Limar recently participated in an active shooter drill on the Galveston campus along with students.
“UTMB police did an awesome job educating drill participants in what they should do to protect themselves,” said Limar. “The more you can make yourself aware the more likely you will survive.”
UTMB police also offer the Rape Aggression Defense Course free to all women ages 12 and up. RAD is a 12-hour basic self-defense course designed for women that provides personal safety education.
RAD classes involve very realistic simulations where participants are encouraged to fight back as one of the women gets “attacked” by two men. The two aggressors are actually UTMB police officers in padded suits who are also instructors for the course.
Officials stress the importance of teaching women defense techniques pointing to Texas Department of Public Safety statistics showing more than 19,800 sexual assault victims in Texas in 2014.
“As always our mission is constant, to improve safety for faculty, staff, students, patients and visitors at UTMB,” said Police Chief Thomas Engells.