FVSU to stage emergency drill

FORT VALLEY — An emergency drill is expected to be held this morning on the campus of Fort Valley State University.

The drill scenario calls for an accidental fire in which two students take advantage of the diversion and attempt to rob the university’s cashier’s office. But the mock situation escalates when the robbers fire on six university employees attempting to flee.

The drill will include response from campus security as well as local law enforcement and emergency agencies. It is scheduled to be held from 7:30 a.m. to 11:20 a.m.

“We need to make sure that our campus is a safe campus,” said Desmond Williams, FVSU’s emergency management coordinator. “And that we’re ready in the event of any crisis.”

Thursday marked the second anniversary of the Virginia Tech campus shooting on April 16, 2007, when Seung-Hui Cho, an English major at the college, killed 32 people and wounded others before killing himself.

Since that time, universities across the country have taken a close look at their own campuses in the event of such a crisis, said Dwayne Crew, FVSU associate vice president for business and finance.

“We’re going to treat this as a real-world incident,” he said.

Crew said the university will be on lockdown during the scenario.

From an “active shooter” — whom law enforcement will have to subdue — to fake blood on university staff, the event will be as realistic as possible, he said.

The university will have people on site from another college and other law enforcement and emergency agencies to evaluate the response to the mock crisis, Williams said.

Also, the university plans to test its messaging system, which can simultaneously send out thousands of text and voice messages to cell phones, e-mail addresses and home telephones to alert students and staff of what’s happening on campus, Crew said.

“We’ve never tested it on a large scale,” he said.

Precautionary measures are being taken to ensure safety during the drill, Crew said. All law enforcement officers will check their guns and ammunition, passing through metal detectors, before entering the drill area, Crew said.

The officers will use fake M-16 rifles and pistols, he said.

Crew said he believes this is the first time a mock drill has been held on campus in conjunction with area law enforcement agencies.

More than 100 people are participating in the drill. Agencies include campus police, Fort Valley police, Peach County sheriff’s deputies, the Peach County Emergency Management Agency, 911, fire, emergency ambulance and medical service workers and Georgia State Patrol troopers

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 923-3109, extension 243.