Active shooter training shows SMSU serious about safety

MARSHALL – Safety has become more and more of an issue with college campuses as time goes on. As Michael Munford, the director of public safety for Southwest Minnesota State University, put it, “We live in a post 9-11 world and need to be prepared.”

To prepare the staff at SMSU, an active shooter training took place on campus Monday and Tuesday.

“There are people inside the building with guns loaded with simunition. There are also the Marshall Police, Lyon County Sheriffs and others whose goal is to take down the shooters. We want to make it as real as possible. Administration is tagging along to see how the process works,” Munford said.

Simunition is non-lethal training ammunition similar to that of a paintball gun. The hand guns are blue, and the rifles have a red tip. When fired, the ammunition will leave a mark on the person or object that has been hit.

“The training has three goals: to test the plan, to build relationships with the people we’ll be working with and to expose leaks in the plan,” Munford said.

“Things won’t go smoothly, and that is the point. We want to be able to think on our feet instead of sitting in a desk discussing the what-ifs. Then when we are done we critique what could be done differently,” Munford added.

Before the active shooter training took place, students were notified to stay out of the Social Science building. All entrances both inside and outside were blocked off to keep everyone away. Also, students and staff were notified via e-mail, much like they would be in case of an actual shooting.

“In case of an actual shooter, we would get information out to the students using all possible ways of communication including Star Alert, Twitter, Facebook and e-mail. We instruct our students and staff to run, hide or fight. It is not always possible to evacuate, and we recognize that,” Munford said.

Students are instructed to do one of the three things: run, hide, or fight, until they are given the all clear.

“Unfortunately, there are violent people out there. The more prepared we can be, the better off everyone is,” Munford said.

The emergency response team of SMSU also participated in the active shooter training.

“At 1 p.m., we all got a call and were given a scenario. The response team met up and went over what each of our responsibilities are and what we were to do. This is something we do regularly,” said Jim Tate, associate director in the Office of Communications and Marketing.

“Just an hour after we were done, we had the opportunity to see how the professionals react to the same situation,” Tate said. “Seven or eight years ago, there was an active shooter training put on by the State Patrol, but no one was allowed to observe. This was the first time any administration could tag along.”

The emergency response team split up in to two groups and stood back to see how Marshall Police, Lyon County Sheriff’s Department and other law enforcement handle a shooter on campus.

“It was a very intense situation. You know it is just training, but you see rifles and handguns drawn. It is systematic and serious,” Tate said. “It was a very eye-opening experience.”