Alert system unused during bomb threat
Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 00:04
A bomb threat made on April 4, targeting the Liberal Arts and Business Building, forced Citrus College officials to evacuate campuswide and called for a “Crisis Action Team.”
Students, faculty and staff were evacuated when campus safety received a bomb threat call at approximately 2:37 p.m., halting activities while police searched the campus.
This is the second time in six months a bomb threat directed toward Citrus has been made.
Carol Horton, vice president of finance and administrative services, was the acting incident commander for this particular crisis team and said that they quickly contacted the Glendora Police Department and began the evacuation immediately.
“I think we did great, most everybody cleared the buildings fairly quickly,” Horton said.
Horton said that the Emergency Information Officers for each building who oversee evacuations for their respective buildings and are professionally trained became aware, actively held good communication and helped everything move quickly.
In the event of an imminent emergency, the Citrus Alert is usually activated to send an emergency notification via phone, email and text message to communicate with students and employees to let them know of the incident and when it clears out.
However, Citrus officials decided not to activate the Citrus Alert system in this particular case.
“We don’t use Citrus Alert for everything, and it was a decision not to use the Citrus Alert,” Horton said. “It wasn’t a long enough incident, we had everybody in and out of the building within 45 minutes.”
Horton said the EIO’s worked carefully with the GPD and even called the Los Angeles Police Department, setting a protocol with them as well.
The main concern was to evacuate first and have police officials check the targeted buildings.
After the all clear was given at around 3:45 p.m. by the EIO’s, classes resumed for the remainder of the day.
Some of the students, who were not on campus during the bomb scare, were unaware of the situation since the Citrus Alert was not activated.
Yet, some students took it upon themselves to inform their peers of the bomb threat, which caused some to not attend classes.
Student Gabriel Ojeda said he found out about the threat through the social networking site Twitter from two of his friends who immediately tweeted the incident.
The interim vice president of student services, John Baker, sent out an official memo two days after the scare, explaining the situation and describing some of the emergency preparedness protocols to follow.
“I wasn’t on campus when the bomb threat occurred, but found out about it the same day through friends,” said student Irene Gamboa. “I was surprised Citrus didn’t send out an email like they usually do.”
Paula Green, director of communications, is the appointed official who sends out the Citrus Alerts and said that it was an administrative decision not to send out the alert.
“The intent was that we were going to handle this as quickly as possible, and as efficiently as possible,” Green said. “If the decision had been made to close the campus or cancel classes, then a higher level of information would’ve been initiated.”
Green said the campus officials’ primary concern is to make sure that everyone is safe on campus.
“Part of keeping people safe is not rushing to judgment,” Green said. “Good judgment was exercised in this case.”
Green also said that each emergency is different and the decisions to activate the alert system are based on the conditions, and always with the safety of the students and faculty in mind.
As of now, the fastest way to alert students of an imminent emergency is through the Emergency Operation Commander system and its EIO’s and Citrus Alert.
Green and Baker both said that they would encourage students to register for Citrus Alert and keep it up to date if they have not done so.
Horton advises students to always be aware and follow the commands given by the EIO’s and their professors.
To access detailed information about emergency preparedness, the Emergency Response Procedures flip chart online visit: www.citruscollege.edu/emergency and click on the link for the flip chart under Important Emergency and Safety Related Links.
If you have not registered or need to update your emergency contact information with Citrus Alert visit www.citruscollege.edu/citrus-alert.