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Faculty Preparedness in the Classroom

During an emergency, many students will look to faculty and instructors for guidance. Use this information to help you become better prepared and manage the initial moments of a classroom or campus emergency.

Instructor’s role during an emergency

Students look to the person at the front of the class for leadership, anticipating that the faculty member or instructor will know what to do if an emergency occurs.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Share basic emergency preparedness procedures during the first week of class.
  • Remind students to update their emergency contact information in MyUW and to opt in to UW Alert emergency text messages.
  • Know how to report any emergency from your classroom, lab, studio or work area.
  • Individuals with disabilities – who self-identify – should be able to provide information on special assistance needs if an emergency occurs. They may need help leaving a building during an evacuation. UW’s Environmental Health & Safety office has additional information about evacuation options for people with disabilities.
  • Provide leadership if an emergency occurs; lead by example and follow emergency procedures.

How to report an emergency

  • Dial 9-1-1 from your cell phone, or 9-9-1-1 from a campus landline.
  • Tell the dispatcher your exact location.
  • Describe the nature of the emergency.
  • Remain calm and do not hang up.
  • If possible, have someone meet emergency personnel outside the building.

Medical emergencies during class time

Provide plenty of space for the person experiencing a medical episode and emergency personnel.

  • Call 9-1-1
  • Send someone to escort emergency medical personnel to the classroom.
  • Unless they are in immediate danger, do not move the person until emergency personnel arrive.
  • If properly trained, give appropriate first aid and/or CPR until emergency personnel arrive.
  • Never transport students to the hospital in personal or work vehicles – wait for ambulance arrival.

Evacuating a class

Building evacuation routes are posted in building hallways.

  • Be familiar with two building evacuation routes for your classroom. Look for illuminated EXIT signs to determine your primary and secondary routes.
  • Remember, all fire alarms are mandatory evacuations. Do not use elevators.
  • As your class is evacuating, encourage everyone to leave the building, but do not wait for those who refuse to leave. Try to keep your class together. Move at least 30 feet away from the building to the building evacuation assembly area.
  • Please review your building’s Fire Safety & Evacuation Plan (FSEP) for building specific safety information. The FSEP is available via your unit’s administrative lead or building coordinator.

SAMPLE instructor script for class presentation

Consider sharing this information (or paraphrasing) in each of your classes at the beginning of each quarter.

Though unlikely, there is always a possibility that there might be some type of emergency during the quarter. Emergencies come in different forms – weather, medical, fire and ones involving people intending to do harm.

I would like to take a few moments to talk about actions to take in the event of an emergency in our classroom setting.

If there is an emergency, I will stop teaching right away. When it is safe to do so, we will call 9-1-1 and identify our building and room number, as well as the issue.

The first warning of an emergency may come to our attention through a personal electronic device, a speaker announcement or a messenger at the classroom door.

In case of a fire alarm, exit quickly and as orderly as possible.

We also must plan for any active threat situations, evaluate the situation, and make a decision on how to respond. There may not be a clear “right” answer. You will need to act quickly and choose to run, hide or fight.

RUN: Escaping the danger is the best option if you can. Have an escape route and plan in mind. Leave your belongings behind and get out and as far away as quickly and quietly as possible.

HIDE: If you cannot safely evacuate or are unsure of the location of the threat, do your best to secure the space you are in and create barriers between you and the threat. Secure doors, turn off lights, silence electronic devices and move away from windows and doors.

FIGHT: When you can’t run or hide, attempt to disrupt the attack or stop the attacker. Work with others to ambush the attacker with makeshift weapons, such as chairs, fire extinguishers, scissors or books.

If you need to exit the building or are unable to find safety inside a building, go as far away as possible while still staying safe. Keep going until you know you are out of danger. If it is not safe to evacuate, take cover behind a building, car or other large object.

Take the time to identify different entrances and exits in this room and building [POINT TO EACH EXIT IN THE ROOM]. There are many ways in and out of the building. The next time you come to class, think about possible routes. Try different routes each day so you are aware.

If you have safety concerns about yourself or others, in urgent or dangerous situations, please call 911.

Support and guidance are also available from the UW’s SafeCampus program. Someone might share with you that they’re struggling or worried about their own safety, or you might become concerned for someone else.

You can call SafeCampus to anonymously discuss safety and well-being concerns for yourself or others. The SafeCampus phone number is 206-685-7233.

Division of Campus Community Safety and safety offices on each of our campuses have resources to help you:

Classroom Preparedness Checklist

  • Locate the Emergency Procedures poster.
  • Locate the nearest fire extinguisher.
  • Identify the location of the building’s Automated External Defibrillator (AED).
  • Locate the evacuation assembly point.
  • Consider how you will direct students in an emergency.
  • Visit the UW Alert website.