The George Washington University recently completed an assessment of various operational safety elements on campus and is implementing clearer guidance for GW Alerts, offering expanded trainings and updating procedures.
More than 150 students, faculty and staff members from 30 departments, offices and schools provided feedback in an “after-action” review of the university’s response to communicating with the community when an individual escaped D.C. Metropolitan Police Department custody near the GW Hospital earlier in the fall semester. The after-action process revealed several opportunities to enhance communication with the GW community and coordination across GW and with local partners. The university has begun and will continue to implement improvements based on the lessons learned throughout this process.
Members of the community shared that they felt the university prioritized safety and efficiency when communicating about the incident and appreciated the mental health and other resources provided. Some also said they felt the “shelter-in-place” guidance used was ambiguous or confusing, that the guidance lasted too long and that they did not have training to respond in such a situation.
As a result, the university implemented enhancements in three areas, focusing on standardizing “protective actions,” or clear guidance that can be used when communicating in emergency situations.
Four protective actions will primarily be used moving forward in emergency situations—shelter, secure, lockdown and evacuate—with more specific information provided in follow-up communications based on the specific emergency. In addition, the university will rely on two GWorld modes—safety and emergency—to indicate, respectively, that building doors are accessible via tap access to GWorld cardholders or restricted to authorized emergency responders only.
The protective actions and GWorld modes can be used and communicated to the community in varying combinations depending on the emergency.
Separately, the university also is taking steps to expand safety trainings, including by providing guidance on classroom emergency lockdown buttons and hazard-specific responses as well as reviewing and updating safety procedures, such as securing campus buildings, sending emergency alerts and concluding incident responses.
More information on all updates and resources is available on the Safety website.