CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - It's a sign of the changing times. A need for advanced training to know what to do should there be an active shooter or aggressor on campus is being addressed at Coastal Carolina University. Campus police and university officials are rolling out an enhanced training program called SAFE for CCU students and employees.
Police have decided to ditch the general "run, hide, fight" response for the SAFE program. It's an acronym standing for what police want students and faculty to do in an emergency situation. That's to be secure, be alert, fight and escape.
"You can save yourself, you can survive these events and that's what we're trying to train our community, faculty and staff surrounding Coastal," said Coastal Carolina University police Lt. Robert Pellerin. "We're also training people not to just hide. Escape is the main, the first priority in these situations. If you have a safe escape route we want you to use that. We don't want you to stay in that situation and put yourself in danger if you can get out. We also are trying to train as a last resort to fight."
Pellerin said it will eventually include hands-on training with CCU students and employees to teach them the 'SAFE' program standard. That includes securing a room through barricades, being alert and even disabling doors. SAFE also extends to how to safely escape, and if necessary, how to fight back. Pellerin said hiding in the popular "lockdown" mode won't necessarily keep you alive if a gunman wants in. As campus shootings and safety emergencies happen more often, campus security is advancing in ways to prepare, respond and react.
Pellerin said teaching the public to be active in these emergency situations helps law enforcement be successful to stop the threat. The fact that students and faculty have been coming to police for more active aggressor training encouraged CCU police to ask to enhance training last November. This ironically happened around the time of the Ohio State University stabbing emergency.
"We've had several groups already come to us and ask us for the training, and we've been able to provide that. We've had a couple student groups as well as faculty and staff groups. So right now it's just as requested by groups. And here in the near future, we'll be rolling it out to everyone on campus in some way, shape or form," he said. He said groups can ask police for training while waiting for SAFE to start, and they will oblige.
Campus police are consistently training for emergency situations throughout the year with SLED, Myrtle Beach police, Conway police and Horry County police, Pellerin said. A date to officially begin SAFE with CCU students and employees has not been set.