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Chapter Thirteen: Emergency Preparedness

13.0 Virginia Tech Emergency Management

13.1 During Any Emergency

Students look to the person leading the class for direction, especially in an emergency.

  • Review basic emergency preparedness during the first week – 10 minutes of pre-planning can save lives. Contact Virginia Tech Emergency Management at 540-231-4873 or if you need assistance. Visit for additional resources.
  • Remind students to update emergency contact information on Hokie SPA and to sign-up for VT Alerts at
  • Download the HOKIE READY preparedness app
  • Dial 911 to report any emergency from the classroom, lab, office, or other location.
  • Individuals with disabilities – who self-identify – may provide information on special assistance needs if an emergency occurs. They could need assistance leaving a building during an evacuation.
  • In an emergency, lead by example and follow emergency procedures.

13.2 Reporting an Emergency

Dial 911 for police, fire, or emergency medical services. Remain calm – your actions will influence others.

  • Tell the dispatcher you are at Virginia Tech, give the street address, building name, and room number.
  • Give your full name and the telephone number from which you are calling, in case you are disconnected.
  • Describe the nature of the emergency clearly.
  • Do not hang up the telephone, additional information may be needed. If possible, have someone meet emergency personnel outside of the building.

13.3 Prepare

In addition to your daily class materials, carry:

  • A charged cell phone. Make sure you have signed up for VT Alerts in advance.
  • A list of important telephone numbers (i.e., department leadership, lab supervisors if applicable, etc.).

13.4 Medical Emergency

  • Create space for the affected individual(s) and emergency personnel
  • Do not move an injured person before responders arrive
  • Call 911
  • Have someone meet and direct emergency personnel to the site
  • Only those trained properly should provide first aid or CPR

13.5 SECURE-in-Place

  • Remain calm
  • Inside: lock the door and/or place a barricade between you and the violence or danger.
  • Outside: seek safety in an interior space in the nearest unlocked building. Lock and/or barricade the door. If buildings are locked, move away from the danger or leave campus if it is safe to do so.
  • Turn off lights, silence phones, draw blinds, and move away from windows.
  • Await further instruction from VT Alerts and/or emergency personnel.
  • DO NOT leave until an “All Clear” is instructed by first responders.

13.6 Entry to a Secure Location

Allowing someone to enter a secure location may endanger you and others who are already safe. Use good judgement before opening a secure door. Factors to consider:

  • Determine if the individual is under duress, or might they be lying in wait?
  • Compare the person wanting entry to the description provided by the secure-in-place alert. Consider age, race, clothing description, height, weight, sex, hair, and eye color.
  • Have the person leave a backpack, laptop case, package, etc. outside of the secure area.
  • Have the person lift up their shirt, coat or jacket and rotate to see if they might be concealing a weapon.

13.7 SHELTER-in-Place

Shelter-in-place events are usually weather-related emergencies. During a tornado, seek shelter on the lowest level possible.

  • Remain calm
  • Respond immediately, DO NOT wait to see a tornado or severe weather event to react. Do not go outside to check the weather conditions.
  • Seek shelter in the closest building in an interior room or corridor, away from windows, glass, and unsecured objects that may fall. DO NOT lock doors in case others need to shelter-in-place.
  • Avoid sheltering in large free-standing spaces such as auditoriums and gymnasiums.
  • DO NOT use elevators.
  • Await instruction from VT Alerts and first responders.
  • DO NOT leave until an “All Clear” is received.

13.8 Weather Definitions

Watch: Conditions are favorable for the development of severe weather. Closely monitor the situation in case conditions worsen.

Warning: Severe weather has been observed. Listen closely to instructions provided by weather radios, emergency officials, and other alert mechanisms. Seek shelter immediately.

13.9 Evacuation

Evacuation routes are posted in hallways, usually near stairwells or exits.

  • Know two evacuation routes. Use EXIT signs to determine primary and secondary exits.
  • Fire alarms are mandatory evacuations. Do not use elevators unless authorized by emergency personnel.
  • Encourage everyone to leave the building – do not wait for those who refuse to leave. Inform first responders of those that are in the building. Keep your class together. Stay 50 feet from the building to allow access for emergency personnel.

13.10 Persons with Disabilities

Services for Students with Disabilities 540-231-3788 and/or Equity and Access at 540-231-2010.

  • Ask students to self-identify in confidence if they require special assistance during an emergency.
  • Auditory: communicate with the hearing impaired with a note or hand gestures
  • Visual: describe the situation and act as a “sighted guide” to escort them to a safe location. Identify a “buddy” before an emergency.
  • Mobility: if a person cannot safely leave the building, a “buddy” can accompany the individual to an area of refuge without blocking the evacuation path. Do not attempt a rescue evacuation of an individual with a disability unless you have had the appropriate rescue training and the individual gives permission.

13.11 Stay Informed