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Coffeepot Chatter: Preparing For Any Emergency

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Maria: Harry, I know we are a small office but do we, or does the building, have a safety or violence prevention plan?

Harry: The building has an evacuation plan – mostly in the event of fire. It would be a good idea to have a plan for other emergencies too.

Tom: Yeah, you can’t help but think about these things when there’s so much in the news all the time. Violence seems to happen everywhere any more – schools, courthouses, movie theaters, fast food restaurants.

Harry: Yes, let’s think about different scenarios that might make us feel uncomfortable or unsafe and discuss how we’d respond to them. Tom, would you find time on our calendars to do that?

Tom: Absolutely!


Recently, the Human Resources office spent time reviewing its emergency procedures for a variety of potential situations, including fire (and earthquake!).  The plan includes evacuation routes as well as two gathering spots outside of the building. The office staff also has a buddy system set up so that we have a group of co-workers to be on the lookout for if things get confusing or chaotic in the midst of evacuation.

When it came to discussing the possibility of a violent intruder, we decided to invite Sergeant Chris Houtz of the Lehigh University Police Department to offer a presentation at a recent staff meeting. 

Sergeant Houtz showed the staff a DVD – Active Shooter – specifically focused on what to do if someone entered the building with weapons and the intent to harm. The program included some vital tips for getting out of a situation, calling out to alert police, hiding out if there’s no way to exit, or, as a last resort, taking out an attacker.

Sergeant Houtz then shared information that was specific to Lehigh, including the best methods for contacting the police. And he showed us some of the equipment the LU Police force has on hand to respond to dangerous situations.


No one wants to consider that the worst could happen in his/her own workplace. But we can’t ignore reality at the expense of our safety. Preparing  for the possibility that it could happen can make the difference between preventing a tragedy and dealing with the aftermath. 

After going through the presentation with Sergeant Houtz, HR staff agreed they felt better prepared to face the unthinkable. Lehigh Police welcome invitations by other offices on campus seeking emergency preparedness and active shooter safety training. Contact Chief Ed Shupp at extension 84202 to set up an appointment.

For More Information


  • Read more about Lehigh's emergency preparedness.