TU Emergency Resources Guide

The Emergency Resources Guide provides recommended procedures for responding to a range of campus emergencies. 

Take the time to review and become familiar with how to respond to the following incidents. If it's safe to do so, faculty and staff are asked to exercise leadership and provide direction to students and visitors during emergencies.

Emergency resources guide

Active Shooter: Avoid-Deny-Defend

If someone enters the area and starts shooting, or if you hear shooting, remember to AVOID-DENY-DEFEND. These types of incidents are unpredictable. The guidelines below are based on past experience. You may need to alter some suggestions depending on the situation.

AVOID

  • If safe to do so, exit the building immediately.
  • Seek shelter in a safe location and await instructions from police or university officials.
  • Notify anyone you may encounter to exit the building immediately.
  • Notify TUPD at 410-704-4444, x4-4444 from a campus phone or through an emergency blue light phone.
  • Give the TUPD police communications officer your name, the location of the incident (be as specific as possible), the number of shooters (if known), an identification or description of the shooter, the number of persons who may be involved, and your location.

DENY

If exiting the building is not possible, we recommend the following actions:

  • Go to the nearest room or office, preferably one that can be locked from the inside. Look for a lock symbol sticker on the door frame which indicates the door is lockable.
  • If safe, allow others to seek refuge with you.
  • Close and lock the door. If the door has no lock, barricade it with anything available--desks, chairs, bookshelves etc.
  • Cover the door windows and turn off the lights.
  • Keep quiet and act as if no one is in the room. Silence cell phones.  DO NOT answer the door.
  • Notify TUPD at 410-704-4444, x4-4444, or through an emergency blue light phone.
  • Give the TUPD police communications officer your name, the location of the incident (be as specific as possible), the number of shooters (if known), an identification or description of the shooter, the number of persons who may be involved, and your location.
  • If it is safe to do so, and you are properly trained, treat the injured.

DEFEND

  • If you cannot AVOID or DENY, be prepared to DEFEND yourself.
  • Improvise weapons using items in your area.
  • Be aggressive and committed to your actions.
  • Do not fight fairly. This is about survival. 

Police Response

  • Cooperate with officers who may ask you for information. Follow directions.
  • Police are trained to respond to an active shooting incident by entering the building as soon as possible and proceeding to where the shooter/s are. Officers will move quickly and directly. The officers' immediate goal is to get to the shooter/s.
  • Try to remain calm and patient during this time so as not to interfere with police operations.
  • Normally, a rescue team is formed shortly after the first responding officers enter the building. These will be the officers who will search for injured parties and get everyone safely out of the building.
  • Make sure your hands are empty and visible when police arrive so that you are not mistaken for a threat. If you disarm the suspect, you should not be holding the weapon when police arrive.
Bomb Threats
  • Remain calm.
  • Listen carefully.
  • Do not interrupt the caller.
    - Try to keep the caller talking.
    - Keep the caller on the line as long as possible.
    - Do not anger the caller.
    - Write down exactly what the caller says.
  • Obtain information necessary to complete bomb threat data reports. These forms can be downloaded from the Towson University Police website. Keep a copy of the form at your workstation. Try to determine:
    - Time device is set to detonate
    - Device location
    - Description of device
    - Type of explosive utilized
    - What will cause the device to detonate
    - If the caller is responsible for placing the device
    - Why the device was placed
    - Name, address, and phone number of caller (check caller ID on phone)
    - Organization represented by the caller
    - Exact wording of threat
    - Time and length of call and number call was made to
    - Age, gender, and voice characteristics of caller, and
    - Background noises in the calls.

  • Notify TUPD at 410-704-4444.

  • Do not erase threats if they are left on voicemail.

  • Notify your supervisor.

  • Use your phone features to capture last incoming call information:
    - #71 for Towson 704 and 616 exchanges.
    - #69 for Millennium Hall – IF you have purchased that phone option.

  • Meet and cooperate with responding University Police personnel.

Criminal Activity: Shelter in Place

In the event of a criminal or violent act that has been committed at or near Towson University, it may become necessary to shelter in place in campus buildings. When notified by the TUPD to shelter in place due to criminal activity, follow these procedures:

  • Go to the nearest room or office, preferably one that can be locked from the inside. Look for a lock symbol sticker on the door frame which indicates the door is lockable.
  • If it's safe to do so, faculty and staff should direct and assist students and visitors to locations where they may seek shelter.
  • Close and lock all windows and doors. If the door doesn't have a lock, barricade it with available items (desks, chairs, bookshelves, etc.).
  • If possible, cover all interior windows and door windows.
  • Stay away from all doors and windows, move to interior walls and try to remain out of sight.
  • Turn off all lights.
  • Keep quiet. Silence cell phones.
  • Do not leave until instructed by law enforcement personnel.
  • Cooperate with law enforcement personnel. Show them that you are not a threat by keeping your hands empty and visible. If possible, “buddy up” with someone you know; this assists law enforcement personnel when they are searching the area.
  • Monitor cell phones registered to receive emergency alert text messages; monitor a campus computer for emergency messages.
  • Report suspicious persons or activities to TUPD at 410-704-4444 or x4-4444.
  • If you are in an open area such as a dining hall and cannot get to a space that can be locked, hide behind a solid object such as a door, file cabinet or counter. Remain quiet and wait for law enforcement to arrive and assist you.
  • If outdoors, follow emergency alert messages or directions from law enforcement personnel. Stay away from the affected area. 
Earthquakes

Take as few steps as possible to get to a safe place.

If Indoors

  • Stay inside until the shaking stops. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.
  • DROP to the ground, take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other furniture, and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
  • Stay away from glass, windows, exterior doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
  • Do not use a doorway for shelter.
  • DO NOT use the elevators.
  • Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.

If Outdoors:

  • Move away from buildings, streetlights and utility wires.
  • Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits and alongside exterior walls. 

If in a Moving Vehicle:

  • Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses and utility wires.
  • Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges or ramps that might have been damaged.

If Trapped Under Debris:

  • Do not light a match or use a lighter.
  • Do not move about or kick up dust.
  • Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
  • Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.

After an Earthquake:

  • When the shaking stops, look around to make sure it is safe to move, then exit the building.
  • Expect aftershocks. These secondary shockwaves are usually less violent than the main quake but can be strong enough to do additional damage to weakened structures. They can occur in the first hours, days, weeks or even months after the quake.
  • Help injured or trapped persons. Remember to help neighbors who require special assistance, such as infants, the elderly and people with access and functional needs. Give first aid where appropriate. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Call for help.
  • Listen to a battery-operated radio or TV for the latest information.
  • Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
  • Stay away from damaged areas unless your assistance has been specifically requested by police, fire, or relief organizations.
  • After it is determined that it’s safe to return, your safety should be your priority as you begin clean up and recovery.
  • Open cabinets cautiously. Beware of objects that can fall off shelves.
  • Leave the area if you smell gas or fumes from other chemicals.
  • Inspect utilities.
  • If you smell gas or hear blowing or hissing noises, open a window and quickly leave the building. Notify police and/or Facilities Management.

  • If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, notify police and/or Facilities Management.

  • If water pipes are damaged, contact Facilities Management and avoid using water from the tap.

Elevator Failures

Persons trapped in elevators should use the elevator’s emergency telephone to notify TUPD. If the elevator phone call does not go through, use a cell phone to call TUPD at 410-704-4444.

Do not attempt to crawl through escape hatches or force elevator doors open. Only trained mechanics, elevator technicians and fire/rescue personnel may conduct elevator rescues.

Emergency Communications

Important Phone Numbers

TUPD: 410-704-4444
Ambulance: 911
Fire: 911
Environmental Health & Safety: 410-704-2949
Facilities Work Control: 410-704-2481

Alert Systems

Towson University utilizes the following alert systems to notify the campus of emergency conditions:

  • Text Alerts - register now
  • External Alert System (siren & voice)
  • Internal Voice Emergency Alert System
  • Voice Over Internet Phone (VOIP) System
  • Net Notify (computer screen banner)
  • Social Media (Twitter, Facebook)
  • Radio and Television
  • TU Homepage
  • Campus Email

If you receive an alert through one or all of these systems:

  1. Assess the alert. If it applies to your location, follow the instructions provided in the alert.
  2. Use this guide to isolate yourself from potential danger or threats.

The SaferMobility App

Utilize Towson University’s free SaferMobility app to protect yourself against potential and ongoing crimes.

  1. Add personal health information to your profile.
  2. Track your location.
  3. Send police alerts, real-time video, and instant messages.

To download, search for “Towson University” in the App Store or on Google Play, then choose SaferMobility. Visit the Crime Prevention page for more information.

Evacuations

When evacuating your building or work area:

  • Stay calm. Do not rush or panic.
  • Safely stop your work.
  • Gather your personal belongings if it is safe to do so. Take your prescription medications with you if possible. It may be hours before you are allowed back into the building.
  • If safe, close your office door/s and window/s and lock them.
  • Use the nearest safe stairs and proceed to the nearest exit. Do not use the elevator. Proceed to the designated emergency assembly area unless the evacuation is for a bomb threat. In that case, assemble as directed by emergency responders.
  • Wait for instructions from emergency responders.
  • Do not re-enter the building or work area until you have been instructed to do so by emergency responders.

Evacuation Procedures – Disabled Individuals

If you are either temporarily or permanently disabled and think you would need assistance during an evacuation, inform your supervisor and Environmental Health and Safety at 410-704-2949. Give your name, building name, room number and the nature of your disability. This information will be placed on a list and given to the TUPD for use during emergencies.

  • Co-workers may assist with evacuating disabled persons only if this places them in no personal danger.
  • Always ask someone with a disability how you can help before attempting any rescue technique or giving assistance. Ask the individual how to best assist and whether there are any special considerations or items that need to come with the person.
  • If you use a wheelchair on non-ground level floors, you should go to the nearest enclosed stairwell and wait for the Baltimore County Fire Department to arrive. Someone should stay with you if it does not place them in additional danger. Someone should meet responding fire fighters to report your location. Follow the instructions for being trapped if you cannot get to an enclosed stairwell.
  • Visually impaired persons should have a sighted assistant to guide them to safety. Individually inform deaf and hard-of-hearing persons of the emergency. Do not assume they know what is happening by watching others. 

Evacuations — Hazardous Materials Release

  1. If you witness a hazardous material (HAZMAT) spill, evacuate the spill site and warn others to stay away.
  2. If you are the HAZMAT user:

    - Leave the area of the spill first and go to a safe location nearby.
    - Determine if you have the proper training and protective gear to clean up the spill.
    - If you are able to clean up the spill, follow proper cleanup procedures and use proper personal protection.
    - Manage the generated waste appropriately.
    - Consult your supervisor as necessary.
    - Isolate the spill area to keep everyone away and post signs as necessary.

  3. If the HAZMAT spill requires additional notifications and resources:
    - Alert everyone who could be harmed to evacuate the immediate area and to go to a location that will not impede emergency personnel.
    - If safe and appropriate, limit the spread of the material by applying absorbent and shutting doors.
    - Notify TUPD at 410-704-4444 at a safe distance from the hazard to report: the nature of the incident and name of the HAZMAT, if known; the exact location; any injuries; symptoms being exhibited by exposed individuals; and any other details that would assist officials in preparing their response.

Evacuations — Power Outages (Non-Emergency)

Persons in wheelchairs on non-ground level floors need to contact TUPD at 410-704-4444 for assistance.

Fire Emergencies

University buildings will be immediately and totally evacuated whenever building fire alarms are sounding. If you see or suspect a fire, remain calm and activate fire alarms. Report a fire by phone from a safe place outside the building.

  • Call 911 from any on-campus, off-campus or emergency blue light phone. 
  • Notify TUPD at 410-704-4444 or x4-4444.
  • Give as much specific information as possible to emergency operators. Operators need to be told calls are for Towson University, what is burning (if known), the proper name, floor, and room number, and other specific location information. Do not hang up unless it is unsafe or calls are released by emergency operators.
  • Report all fires, even if extinguished or found subsequent to being extinguished.
  • Report all fire alarms, even if they are suspected to be false or accidental.
  • If safe to do so, shut off all machinery and equipment in work areas.

Evacuate

  • Do not attempt to fight fires.
  • Leave buildings at once using the nearest exits or stairways. Use secondary exits if the primary exits are blocked.
  • Close doors and windows if time permits. Close as many doors as possible between you and the fire. Use the backs of your hands to feel doors and doorknobs before opening doors. Do not open if the door or doorknob feels hot.
  • Do not use elevators
  • Crawl if there is smoke.
  • Gather at pre-designated assembly areas. Take roll and report anyone missing or unaccounted for to emergency responders.

Faculty and staff are not expected to remain inside buildings to inspect and move people to exits; however, it is requested that once safely outside, faculty and staff should move people out of exits and away from the building so others can exit safely.

Do not re-enter buildings for any reason until fire or police officials say it is safe to do so. Render reasonable assistance to disabled persons.

If you are trapped

  • Stuff the cracks around doors with any material you can find to keep out as much heat and smoke as possible.
  • If there are no smoke or flames outside, open windows at the top. Signal for help by hanging a cloth out of the windows.
  • Use available telephones to notify TUPD at 410-704-4444 and let them know your exact location.
  • Do not attempt to jump from multistory buildings.
Medical Emergencies
  • In the event of a medical emergency, keep calm and act immediately.
  • Check the scene for safety. Check the victim for consciousness, breathing, pulse and severe bleeding. Assist victims and remove them from hazards if injuries are minor. Do not move seriously injured victims unless they are in danger of further injury.
  • Notify anyone nearby of potential hazards.
  • Care for life-threatening and non-life-threatening conditions if you have the proper training. In addition:

    - Watch for changes in breathing and consciousness
    - Help the victim rest comfortably
    - Keep the victim from getting chilled or overheated, and
    - Reassure the victim. 

  • Summon medical help. If possible, do not leave victims alone.
    - Call 911 from any on-campus, off-campus or mobile phone.
    - Then notify TUPD at 410-704-4444.
  • Advise the 911 operator and University Police if the victim:

    - Is unconscious
    - Has trouble breathing
    - Has chest pain or pressure
    - Is bleeding severely
    - Has pressure or pain in the abdomen that does not go       away
    - Is vomiting or passing blood
    - Has a seizure
    - Has a severe headache or slurred speech
    - Appears to have been poisoned
    - Has injuries to the head, neck or back, or
    - Has a possible broken bone/s.

  • Be prepared to give the following information:

    - What happened
    - Number of victims
    - Kind of injury
    - Exact location of the emergency
    - What help is being given
    - Your name and phone number

  • Seriously injured persons should be transported to the hospital via ambulance. Transport in private vehicles is discouraged and should only be considered in extreme situations, such as disasters, where medical assistance may be severely delayed or unavailable. 

Suspicious Letters and Packages

Anyone receiving mail and packages should regularly, reasonably and prudently examine those materials before opening them. Suspicious characteristics include:

  • Letters and packages delivered by someone other than regular carriers.
  • Packages wrapped in string (modern packaging materials have eliminated the need for twine and string).
  • Excessive tape.
  • Packages that are lopsided, heavy sided or have lumps, bulges or protrusions.
  • Letters and packages without postage, non-cancelled postage or excessive postage.
  • Handwritten notes such as: “To Be Opened in the Privacy of...,” “Confidential,” “This is Your Lucky Day”.
  • Letters and packages that have no return addresses or  nonsensical return addresses.
  • Letters and packages arriving before or after phone calls asking if the items were received.
  • Misspelling of common names, places or titles
  • Leaks, stains or protruding wires, foil, string, tape, etc.

If you discover a suspicious letter or package:

  • Stop immediately. Do not open items any further. Do not move items or put them in water or confined spaces (e.g., desk drawers or filing cabinets).
  • Do not shake or empty the contents of any suspicious envelope or package.
  • Place the envelope or package in a plastic bag or some type of container to prevent leakage.
  • If you do not have a container, cover the envelope or package with something, e.g. clothing, paper, etc. 
  • Notify TUPD at 410-704-4444. 
  • Isolate the item and get people out of the immediate area.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Notify your supervisor.
  • If possible, list all people who were in the room or area, especially those who had actual contact with any powder or substance. Give this list to the responding emergency personnel.
  • Meet and cooperate with police officers.

If the letter or package has been opened, notify TUPD at 410-704-4444 and:

  • Do not try to clean up any powder or substance. Cover the spilled contents immediately with anything.
  • Leave the room and close the door, or section off the area to prevent others from entering.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water to prevent spreading any powder or other substance to your face.
  • Notify your supervisor.
  • Remove heavily contaminated clothing as soon as possible and place it in a plastic bag or some other sealable container. This clothing bag should be given to the emergency responders for proper handling.
  • If possible, list all people who were in the room or area, especially those who had actual contact with any powder or substance. Give this list to the emergency responders.
  • Meet and cooperate with responding police officers.
Weather Emergencies: Shelter in Place

Tornadoes and severe storms present a substantial threat to Towson University, especially during spring and summer.

Tornadoes and severe Thunderstorms

  • A tornado watch means that tornadoes could develop in the area.
  • A tornado warning means that a tornado has actually been sighted in the area or is indicated by radar.
  • A severe thunderstorm watch indicates the possibility of thunderstorms, frequent lightning and/or damaging winds, hail and heavy rain.
  • A severe thunderstorm warning means that a severe thunderstorm has actually been sighted in the area or is indicated by radar.

Pay attention to weather conditions and listen to the radio and television for weather alert information. If you receive an alert from Towson University, seek shelter immediately. 

  • Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that advance warning is not possible.
  • If warnings are issued or if you receive an alert that says “Weather emergency: shelter in place,” or if you see threatening weather approaching, seek shelter immediately.
  • If you are outdoors, immediately seek shelter inside. Do not try to outrun tornadoes in vehicles. Leave them and seek shelter indoors or in low spots off the side of roads.
  • Once you are inside a building, move to safer areas, such as basements. If underground shelters are not available, move to interior rooms or hallways on the lowest floors and get under sturdy pieces of furniture. Stay away from windows.

If it's safe to do so, faculty and staff should direct and assist students and visitors to a location where they may seek shelter. 


Updated 8/19

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