The events of the past week in Las Vegas continue to remind us all of the importance of planning and partnerships in case of emergencies. Central Community College has taken, and continues to take, steps to keep our students, employees and visitors as safe as possible.

Our campuses each have emergency response teams and building captains who volunteer to assist individuals in case of emergency. We have regular training in lifesaving measures like CPR and use of an AED defibrillator. Each semester we participate in drills covering a range of topics such as active shooter, bomb threat, accident or injury, hazardous substances, lockdown, fires and tornadoes. Under the direction of a college-wide environmental health and safety director, Lenore Koliha, several employees have become FEMA-certified in the National Incident Management System (NIMS) to better prepare for interactions with other emergency response providers. The NIMS training helps us learn best practices for managing emergency situations until additional help can arrive.

In Platte County, we are fortunate to have many area agencies that have signed agreements to assist each other in case of emergencies and that regularly practice for unfortunate situations. In the past, the college has partnered with Columbus Community Hospital, the Platte County Sheriff’s Office, Columbus Police Department, Platte County Emergency Management, Nebraska State Patrol, East Central District Health Department and others to practice responses to emergency situations.

More specifically, the college has recently implemented CARE teams to receive referrals or concerns from students or employees about individuals at risk of hurting themselves, or just needing additional support in juggling the many responsibilities and stresses of college and life. We provide preventative programming on drug and alcohol abuse, Title IX and the Violence Against Women Act. Referrals can be made to professional counselors or caregivers in the area. Criminal activity on campuses is investigated and reported with the information available on our website.

Emergency investments have included utilizing a system called RAVE to alert individuals of emergency situations with notifications going to email; home, work or cellphones; or text. Voice commands over the intercom are available for on-campus emergencies. Residence halls are locked around the clock and only accessible to residents or selected employees. Security personnel is provided on campus 24 hours per day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year.

Our goal, like many organizations, is to train and hope we never have to use these types of emergency measures. But if tragedy or natural disaster does strike, we prepare to address the situations in partnership with our community.

Matt Gotschall is president of Central Community College-Columbus. He can be reached at mgotschall@cccneb.edu.

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