Drills send campus into active safety prep

By Gabriel Quiroz, Staff Writer

There have been active shooters on school campuses across the nation and with no sign of gun regulation in sight it seems that colleges, schools and communities must work together on this issue or at least be prepared to face it.
Police Services Lieutenant Tom Holt said, “Active shooters will pull the fire alarm as a way of getting people out of classrooms and we want to be prepared for that and teach everyone what do in this situation.”
Because of this issue and others, the Contra Costa College campus has begun to hold shelter-in-place drills more frequently.
Holt said, “We want people on campus to be listening during a fire alarm for what’s going on and not just evacuate because they hear it.”
The buildings set to have the drills in the coming months are the Art and Music buildings on Nov. 7 and the Library, Applied Arts and General Education buildings Dec. 5.
Preparation for facing an active shooter is a big reason for these drills, but not the only reason, according to Holt.
Other reasons for the drills include chemical and environmental accidents like air quality, gas leaks or fires.
The shelter-in-place drills began on Oct. 3 at roughly 11 a.m. in three buildings on campus via an alarm and alert message sent to students’ phones.
The drills were allotted an estimated time of about 45 minutes, but only took about 10 to 15 minutes to complete.
The Student Service Center, College Technology Center and Automotive Technology Building were the first buildings to experience the shelter-in- place drill.
Undeclared major Yeliesa Chavez was in the SS Center inside the Welcome Center when the drill started.
She said the loud beep of the alarm began to fill the room.
Chavez said, “The drill shocked me. We found out the day of and the alarms just went off on our phones. We locked the door turned off the lights, went into the back room and locked that door too.”
Many of the other people in the Welcome Center referred to the drill as an active shooter drill more so than they did a shelter-in-place drill.
Chavez said, “We were waiting for a while for the police to come for us, but I guess one of them lost their key — we just went out on our own eventually.”
District Police Services Officer David Sano is in charge of making sure that the drills go smoothly.
“We have staff that are building monitors who inform the students what to do during the process. They (students) also know what areas to go to much like there are certain areas to go to during a fire drill,” he said.
Participants were instructed to turn down cell phones, turn off lights and stay out of sight.
The drills began because the campus Safety Committee, chaired by Director of Business Services Mariles Magalong received many requests from people who wanted to have them on campus.