MSU President's Newspaper Column

March 1, 2022

Prevention and preparation lead the way in efforts to maintain safe environments

Mayville State University is working together with Traill County officials to provide activities that will help our employees and area emergency personnel to be better-prepared in the case of an active shooter/active threat event. Planning activities and trainings related to this topic began last fall and will culminate with a full-scale simulation exercise on Wednesday, March 9. The cost of these activities is being covered by a grant received by the county. The activities are being facilitated by Heartland Consulting.

Our world and the safety we were once accustomed to has changed forever. Instead of being fearful, we should plan to prevent and react appropriately. Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly, and all employees can help prevent and prepare for potential active shooter situations.

With this in mind, all Mayville State faculty and staff took part in a training event on campus Tuesday, March 1. The purposes of the training were to study violence mitigation, educate, prepare for an actual violent event, and learn how to survive a shooter event.

This training provided an opportunity for university administration, faculty, and staff to come together to learn and have meaningful discussions that are instrumental in campus preparedness. The experience provided some key takeaways that can be used in Mayville State’s response to an active shooter/active threat event, whether in practice or real-world.

Participants were able to come away from the training knowing how to recognize potential workplace violence indicators, describe actions to take to mitigate a potential active shooter event, describe actions to take when confronted by an active shooter, and describe how to react to an active shooter event using the Run, Hide, Fight technique.

Area first responders were able to gain some up-to-date best response practice information and training during a session held especially for them on the evening of March 1. Classroom-style discussion, as well as some hands-on training, was included.

The full-scale active shooter exercise is planned for March 9 beginning at 4 p.m. The exercise is an actual boots-on-the-ground event that will simulate an active shooter/active threat scenario on the Mayville State campus. All participants will be faced with a high-pressure situation in a challenging environment. It will be a valuable opportunity for area emergency personnel and Mayville State University personnel to learn and grow their skillsets in preparation for the possibility of these types of challenges presenting themselves in real-life situations.

The participating agencies will include first responders, emergency crews, and other stakeholders from the area including the fire departments from Mayville and Portland, West Traill Ambulance Service, Sanford Mayville, Sanford Hillsboro, the sheriff’s departments of Griggs, Steele, and Traill counties, Mayville State University, and Traill County Emergency Management.

Area residents should not be alarmed while the March 9 exercise is underway, and they are asked to keep their distance, just as if this were an actual emergency situation. It’s important for all exercise participants to maintain their focus and learn as much as possible from the training. For the safety of emergency crews and the public alike, crews must have the space they need to actively respond during the exercise. They must also have space for vehicles and other equipment.

We are grateful for opportunities that help us to be as prepared as possible for the tragic situations that unfortunately have become all-too-common in the world in which we live. We extend our thanks to Traill County Emergency Manager Sheriff Steve Hunt and Assistant Emergency Manager Ben Gates for their foresight that is helping to keep our community safe, as well as the many area emergency response heroes who give of themselves each and every day to make our community a better place in which to live, study, and work.