June 29, 2009

Volume 3, issue 43
June 29, 2009
The Fountain

Valuable learning derived from emergency simulation in Memorial

Among the learning that took place following last week’s simulation of a shooting incident is that there are two distinct sets of challenges to this aspect of emergency response preparation: In addition to the actions taken in response to the crisis situation, there are also clear challenges to planning and executing the simulation itself.

The simulation was a joint effort between Whitman and the Walla Walla Police Department; both organizations had singular goals: For the college, the goal was to test the mass notification systems, including Blackboard Connect and Informacast. Blackboard Connect sends messages via phone and e-mail, and Informacast broadcasts messages over office speakerphones. For the police, the goal was to execute a training exercise to practice responding to an active shooter.

Points discussed at a debriefing meeting held on Friday:

  • Some departments carry too many responsibilities for one person to handle.
  • More education of the campus community is needed about responding to emergencies.
  • Prepared messages ready to go in an instant, such as “SHOOTER IN MEMORIAL; SHELTER IN PLACE,” are needed, as opposed to having an initial message that includes more information.
  • In many cases, the entire campus should be notified as opposed to limiting the message to a group or building.
  • Messages should be repeated.
  • Our phone number database must be updated and kept current, especially with cell numbers. To update your cell number in the database, e-mail it to Michael Quiner at quinerm@whitman.edu
  • Some of the office phones did not perform as expected (Informacast’s broadcast message over speaker); an evaluation of this is under way.
  • The “ALL CLEAR” message must be more audible and repeated; also, individuals should physically walk through buildings to give the all-clear.
  • “Panic buttons” are being considered for some offices.
  • E-mail and office phone messages don’t reach people hiding under desks; greater utilization of Informacast messages over speakers is essential in this type of emergency.

As far as the simulation planning: Future consideration will be given to providing more details about the incident for individuals who may be directly involved. Typically, minimal details are provided in advance, in an effort to simulate actual responses. Events in this simulation unfolded differently than had been envisioned; the elapsed time from shots being fired to subduing the assailant was far shorter than expected, which would certainly have been good in the event of an actual shooting but complicated the emergency notification plan in place – valuable learning for the future.

Kathy Rogers, campus safety coordinator, thanks everyone for participating and encourages all campus community members to take personal responsibility for reviewing the emergency procedures that she has developed. Also, she is happy to come to departmental staff meetings to help groups train and/or review procedures. Contact her at rogerska@whitman.edu.

Summer events keep campus busy

Though school is out for the summer, the campus is far from empty. A steady stream of visitors will be on campus for various programs. In the coming two weeks:

June 29-July 1 – The admission office will host College Horizons, an annual, nationwide pre-college summer program for Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian high school students. It will bring 77 Native American high school juniors and sophomores representing 33 tribal nations, and Native Hawaiians from 14 states and more than 56 high schools throughout the country. Eight of the students are from Washington State, representing nine tribal nations including Spokane, Makah, Jamestown S’Klallam, Colville Confederated, Blackfeet, Yakama, Nooksack and Tuscarora. Anne Thatcher, assistant director of admission, is coordinating this event. Click here to learn more.

Through July 25 – The Summer Dance Lab (SDL) began on June 21; it consists of two-week, three-week and five-week programs that focus on preparing dance students from around the region to become well-rounded dancers. Whitman has hosted the SDL since 1976. Participants are taught by professional dancers from around the country. John Passafiume, a successful modern dance performer and choreographer from New York City, is the SDL director this year. At the end of the five-week course, SDL dancers will present “Dance for a Summer’s Eve,” Friday, July 24, at 7 p.m. in Cordiner Hall. Click here for information.

Clambake joins wine and onions as Whitman fare

While onions and wine top the list of Walla Walla favorites for campus events, Bruce Jones ’67, assistant director of admission in the New England office, and his wife, Maggie Sullivan, took advantage of favorite regional fare as they hosted 80 Whitties – past, present and future – at a Cape Cod clambake. Jones reported that classes from 1957 through 2014 were represented and that the group included 23 alumni and eight new and continuing students.

As pictured, Jones poured wine in addition to serving clams. Not seen, however, are the results of his efforts beyond tending bar and boiling clams. “Since joining the staff in 2005, Bruce has been an integral part of the 84 percent growth in applications from New England that Whitman has experienced,” reports Tony Cabasco, dean of admission and financial aid. “Bruce’s experience as a high school guidance counselor and the relationships he developed with high school counselors have been invaluable in helping us reach more students in New England. His willingness to host the clambake is just icing on the cake for Whitman and is indicative of his spirit of engagement and connection with the Whitman community. He loves parties, too!"

This was the fourth clambake hosted by Jones and Sullivan, but the first in four years. Polly Schmitz, assistant vice president for alumni relations, coordinated invitations for alumni, and the admission staff invited new and continuing students. Click here for Maggie’s photo gallery.

Happy 4th of July (and 2nd and 3rd)!

Just a reminder – the college will be closed and “on holiday” July 2 and 3, for the 4th of July weekend. Normal (summer) operating hours resume Monday, July 6. Enjoy!

Parting Shot
By Greg Lehman, photographer/communications officer

It's nice to have a job where even my breaks give me opportunity to do what I love to do. I spent a few minutes last Wednesday tanning my head and waiting for bees to do their thing on the flowers around Lakum Duckum. Full size.

Whitman College
In This Issue
Emergency Simulation Recap
Summer Events
4th of July Holiday
Parting Shot

Past issues

The Fountain is published by the Office of Communications. Send news to Editor Lenel Parish at thefountain@whitman.edu. Photos are accepted. Submissions are due by Tuesday at 5 p.m. for the following week's issue. Director of Communications: Ruth Wardwell. Online: www.whitman.edu/fountain