Is MC Prepared for An Emergency?

IMG_4587Do students know what to during a tornado or an explosion on campus? What if there were a gunman?

Many students tend to dismiss information about emergency procedures until after they have already happened, but it is important for the Mississippi College community to know what to do during emergencies before they occur. Being prepared for the worst can make all difference.

The Director of Public Safety at Mississippi College Stephen McCraney said that he is “serious about your safety.” With 28 years of experience in law enforcement as a first responder, McCraney has the training and knowledge to make sure the MC campus is on top of security.

All emergency procedures are discussed and approved with the Mississippi College President’s Council. Meetings are also held to inform faculty and staff of what to do during serious safety situations.

Security works alongside offices such as Residence Life to ensure dorm safety as well. In addition, McCraney is part of a Crisis Response Team that meets to formulate plans during specific crisis situations at MC.

Every summer, McCraney leads emergency training sessions on the Mississippi College campus. MC Security trains three times a year with the Clinton Police Department and Clinton Fire Department, practicing various scenarios that include fires, a gunman situation, or bomb threats.

Both departments also have floor plans for every building, and they train everywhere on campus. The fire department even practices bringing water hoses up to the top floors.

McCraney also has a habit of consistently checking to make sure that fire alarms are working properly in all the buildings every semester.

During weather emergencies, Mississippi College is No. 2 on the priority list for Entergy, only after hospitals, which will get our power back on track quicker.

McCraney said that if there was a gunman on MC’s campus, Security could “shutdown about 80% of the campus” within seconds due to the card swipes outside dorms and most classroom buildings.

McCraney also does a lot of environmental scanning, checking for issues that might occur and preparing for them in advance. Security also works with Food Services to make sure that enough food is available for students if something were to put the campus on lockdown.

Proactive measures that McCraney and MC Security are taking to make sure students are aware of what to do during an emergency include putting Emergency Guideline flip charts in every classroom and dorm room on campus.

These charts will be updated and sent out hopefully by the end of the semester and will enable students, faculty, and staff to respond appropriately and calmly in emergency situations.

In addition, every student is automatically signed up for the MC Alert System when they become a part of Mississippi College. During emergencies, students receive either a text or an email that alerts them of an on-campus emergency and instructs them of what they should do. It also tells recipients when the emergency ends.

Mississippi College also purchased 77 new radios last semester that connect the offices of Public Safety, the Physical Plant, Residence Life, Student Life, Athletics, and the MC Law School, and the Flowood Campus at the touch of a button.

There is an Emergency Operations Channel that communicates to all of these offices about serious issues and allows for quicker response from the appropriate people. Even if Clinton’s towers are down, the radio system will still work.

Of course, even with all this preparation, Security does not always have an exact plan for every situation. “You have to adjust on the fly when things happen,” McCraney said.

While MC Security works hard to make sure Mississippi College is safe, students have a significant role to play in making sure things go smoothly. There are practical ways people can make sure they are ready for an emergency.

First, students should make sure they are signed up for the MC Alert System. Many choose to opt-out of the alerts, but McCraney assures that recipients only get texts during emergencies and a once-a-month test right after Chapel on the first Tuesday of every month. This is the quickest, most convenient way for students to get important information wherever they are.

Students can go to {mc.edu/mcalert} to sign up or find out more. Friends and family of those at MC can also sign up for the alerts.

In addition, students need to have access to a radio, either on their phones or in their rooms. Keeping a case of bottled water, some batteries, and a flashlight in the dorm is also a good idea, as well as making sure all important medications are easily accessible. Students can go to {msema.org} for more information regarding emergency supplies and how to stay updated on state emergencies.

One of the most important things a student can do is report suspicious activity. “We don’t know what we don’t know,” McCraney said. He encourages students tell Public Safety of any concerns they may have.

This semester alone, calls from students about safety concerns on campus have helped Security respond to situations they may have not known about otherwise.

“I’m a Choctaw, and I believe in this place” McCraney said. “We don’t want to be overbearing. We want to be available.” He wants MC students to know that Security does not just give out parking tickets. Their job is to make sure that all those in the Mississippi College family are safe, so they can enjoy their college experience.

Students can go to {mc.edu/offices/safety/procedures} for more in-depth information about how to respond during specific emergencies and can also contact MC Security at (601) 925-3204. Their headquarters is located on the first floor of Alumni Hall.

– Abbie Walker, News Editor

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