Response to Specific Emergency Events

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Public Safety

Public Safety

Response to Specific Emergency Events

Below you will find specific procedures for how you, as a member of Teachers College community should respond in the event of certain emergency situations.  To understand how Teachers College organized its response to emergencies, please view the overview of Emergency Operations Actions.

For general building evacuation procedures please review the building evacuation section of this website.

The information below contains the Community Response Protocols and key words/phases to assist in the response. 

Quick Reference

We each have a responsibility to know how to respond in an emergency. The four basic things you need to know are how to:

  1. Report an Emergency
  2. Evacuate a Building
  3. Shelter in Place
  4. Lockdown/Lockout

Report an Emergency

Call Public Safety: 212-678-3333 or Dial: 911

Key Words and Phrases; 

  • Evacuate the building using the nearest available stairway (DO NOT USE ELEVATORS) and exit. Proceed to your designated gathering point at least 500 feet away from the building.
  • Provide assistance to persons with disabilities and other individuals in your immediate area. Notify the TC Office of Public Safety if there are injured or trapped persons remaining in the in your building.

Shelter in Place -- most commonly used for hazardous material emergencies

  • Stay inside in a safe location. Do not exit the building.
  • Close doors and windows.
  • Wait for further instructions from authorities.
  • Refer to Sheltering Annex.


  • Lockdown -- most commonly used for intruder situations
    • Stay or go inside a safe room.
    • Lock or barricade the door.
    • Cover door window.
    • Lock and stay away from windows.
    • Get out of sight and stay low and quiet.
    • Turn off lights.
    • Silence cell phones.
    • Wait for further instructions from authorities.
  • Lockout -- most commonly used for a threat loose outside the building
    • If you are outside, enter the closest building.
    • Stay away from exterior doors and windows.
    • If you are inside, stay inside the building.
    • Wait for further instructions from authorities
Community Response Protocols 

Hostile Intruder / Active Shooter

If you should ever encounter a hostile intruder or active shooter inside a College facility or outside on the campus grounds, your immediate response and decisiveness will help protect you.  Other factors including your location and your proximity to the suspect will also play a factor.  In event of an active shooter, TC Public Saftey will use TC Alert and the public address system to notify the community whenever circumstances permit.
In the event of an active shooter, you should either run, hide, or fight.
If you are indoors and you detect an armed intruder in your building: Evacuate
  • If you can safely escape from the building, get out and report your observations to Public Safety X3333 or 9-1-1.
  • Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow
  • Leave your belongings or anything that can slow you down
  • Help others escape if possible
  • Do not attempt to move the wounded
  • Keep your hands visible
  • Call 911 when you are safe
  • If you cannot safely escape, go into a room that can be locked or barricaded. 
  • Lock or barricade the door. Close the blinds, turn off the lights, remain quiet and move behind available cover. Stay on the floor, away from doors or windows, and do not peek out to see what may be happening.

If you are indoors and cannot escape, Hide

  • Hide in an area out of the shooters view 
  • Lock and barricade doors  “Lock-down”                               
  •  Turn off lights
  •   Close blinds
  •   Block windows
  •   Turn off radios
  •   Keep occupants calm, quiet, and out of sight
  •  Take adequate cover/protection behind concrete walls, thick desks, filing cabinets
  •   Stay low – on the floor
  •   Silence cell phones
  •   Place signs in exterior windows to identify location of injured persons.
  • Call TC Public Safety at X3333 to report the emergency.   9-1-1 If you are calling from a cell phone give your name, location, and phone number.
  • Provide as much information as you can about the situation
  • Do not hang up until instructed to do so by the emergency operator.
  •   If you are in an area that is in “Lock-down”, stay there until law enforcement arrives and clears the area.  Do not open an area in lock-down 

If you are unable to hide and the shooter is close: Fight           

  • Fight. 
  • When your life is in imminent danger, and as a last resort, Fight
  • Act with as much aggression and physical force as possible
  • Attempt to incapacitate the shooter with any and all objects that you may have in your immediate area. Including everything from books to trash cans to chairs
  • Act with aggression and commit to your actions…..Your life depends on it…  


  •  Objective is to immediately engage and neutralize the shooter(s)
  •  Police will not  initially stop to help the wounded
  •  Rescue teams will follow police to assist those wounded
  •  Follow the instructions of police and emergency responders
  •  When told to exit the area, keep your hands visible
  •  Evacuate persons
  •  Facilitate follow-up medical care, interviews, counseling, etc.



What you should do:

Telephone threat:

  • Keep the caller on the telephone as long as possible to obtain further information.
  • Listen carefully to all information provided by the caller and to make a note of any voice characteristics, accents, or background noises as these may also be important clues.
  • A list of questions to ask and information to obtain is provided below: (see Bomb Threat Checklist)
    • When is the bomb going to explode?
    • Where is the bomb right now?
    • What does the bomb look like?
    • What kind of bomb is it? (Plastic, TNT, nitro, etc.)
    • What will cause the bomb to explode?
    • Telephone number where the call came in
    • Exact wording of bomb threat
    • Write down the following additional caller information, if known:
      • Sex of the caller
      • Approximate age, race, accent
      • Voice description (e.g., calm, loud, breathy, etc.)
      • Background noises
      • Caller ID if one available
  • Notify Public Safety as soon as possible at 212-678-3333.

Suspicious object:

  • Do not touch or move the object.
  • Do not use cell phones in the immediate area.
  • If it is a suspicious package, do not open, move or shake the item.
  • Isolate the object and clear the area.
  • Notify Public Safety at 212-678-3333.

Written threat:

  • Handle the written threat as carefully and as little possible, and place in a paper bag if available.
  • Note the date, time, location you received the written threat.
  • Notify Public Safety at 212-678-3333.
  • Provide the written threat to the Public Safety CIC post, Whittier Hall lobby, or as directed by Public Safety.

What you should know:

  • The information gathered during a telephone bomb threat is intended to obtain important information relative to the severity of the threat as well as identify the person responsible for making the threatening call.
  • Be calm and courteous – DO NOT interrupt the caller.
  • When the incident is reported to Public Safety, they will take appropriate measures and employ appropriate resources to thoroughly investigate the threat including notification to law enforcement; conduct facility searches; notify the Teachers College community; and bolster security on campus.

 Bomb Threat Checklist:

Civil Disturbances, Protests, Riots

Most campus demonstrations such as marches, meetings, picketing or rallies will be peaceful and non-obstructive and should not be interfered with. An immediate notification should be made to the Teachers College Office of Public Safety for any of the below conditions:

INTERFERENCE with normal operations of the College.

PREVENTION of access to office, buildings, or other College facilities.

THREAT of physical harm to persons or damage to College facilities.

What you should do:

  • Report disruptive circumstances to Public Safety at 212-678-3333.
  • Do not argue with participant(s).
  • Have employees, visitors or students leave the immediate area of disturbance.
  • Lock all doors.
  • Stay away from windows and exterior doors.
  • Remain inside building, unless instructed otherwise by Public Safety.
  • Public Safety will issue further instructions upon arrival.

What you should know:

  • Inserting yourself in a violent situation may only lead to you and others getting hurt.
  • Let the authorities deal with the situation.

An earthquake is a sudden shaking of the earth caused by the breaking or shifting of rock beneath the earth's surface. Though damaging earthquakes are rare in our area, they are not impossible. There are several fault lines in the New York/New Jersey area. You may also move or travel to earthquake prone areas, so information regarding earthquake response procedures should be part of your emergency preparedness knowledge.

Damage from a major earthquake can extend for many miles from the epicenter.  Collapsed buildings, bridges and overpasses, cracked roadways, downed power lines, broken gas lines, explosions, and landslides can result. Earthquakes at sea can trigger huge ocean waves, called tsunamis, which impact coastal areas.

What to do before an earthquake:

  • Look for items in your home that could become a hazard during an earthquake:
  • Repair defective electrical wiring, leaky gas lines, and inflexible utility connections.
  • Bolt down water heaters and gas appliances (have an automatic gas shut-off device installed that is triggered by an earthquake)
  • Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves. Fasten shelves to walls. Brace high and top heavy objects.
  • Store bottled foods, glass, china, and other breakables on low shelves or in cabinets that can be fastened shut.
  • Anchor overhead lighting fixtures.
  • Check and repair deep cracks in ceilings and foundations. Get expert advice, especially if there are signs of structural defects.
  • Be sure your residence is firmly anchored to its foundations (many older homes are not anchored).
  • Install flexible pipe fittings to avoid gas or water leaks.
  • Know where and how to turn off electricity, gas, and water at main switches and valves.
  • Locate safe spots in each room under a sturdy table or against an inside wall. 
  • Identify danger zones in each room -- windows where glass can shatter, bookcases or furniture that can topple over, or under ceiling fixtures that can fall.
  • Develop a plan for reuniting with your household after an earthquake. Establish an out of town contact for household members to call.
  • Prepare to survive on your own for a least 3 days.  Assemble a disaster supply kit.  Keep a stock of non-perishable food and drinking water.

Remember, certain instructional items may not apply if you are living in an on-campus / off-campus dorm or apartment. 


What to do during an earthquake:

  • If you are inside a building, stay inside your building until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Most injuries during earthquakes occur when people are hit by falling objects when entering or exiting buildings.
  • If you are indoors, drop, cover, and hold on!  Take cover under a sturdy desk, table, or bench, or against an inside wall, and hold on. Stay away from glass windows, outside doors or walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.  If you are in bed, stay there, hold on, and protect your head with a pillow (unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall.
  • If you are outdoors, stay outside.  Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires. Do not take shelter under a bridge or overpass.
  • If you live in an apartment building, residence hall, or other multi-household structure with many levels:
  • Get under a desk and stay away from windows and outer doors.
  • Stay in the building (many injuries occur as people flee a building and are struck by falling debris).
  • Be aware that electricity may go out and sprinkler systems may activate.
  • Do not use the elevators.
  • If you are in a crowded indoor public location:
    • Stay where you are.  Do not rush for the doorways.
    • Move away from tall shelves, cabinets, bookcases, and display cases that could topple over or that contain objects that could fall.
    • Take cover and grab something to shield your head and face from falling debris and glass.
    • Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may activate.
    • Do not use elevators.
    • If you are in a moving vehicle, stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, or utility wires. Then proceed cautiously, watching for bridge and road damage.
  • If you become trapped in debris:
    • Do not light a match or lighter.
    • Do not move about or kick up dust.
    • Cover your mouth with a cloth or clothing.
    • Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. 
    • Use a whistle if one is available.
    • Shout only as a last resort -- shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.
    • Stay indoors until the shaking has stopped and you are sure that exiting is safe.

What to do after an earthquake:

  • Be prepared for aftershocks. They can be strong enough to do additional damage to weakened structures.
  • Check for injuries. Do not attempt to move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of death or further injury.  If you must move them, first stabilize their neck and back.
  • If the victim is not breathing, carefully position the person to open the airway to assist them to breathe.
  • Maintain body temperature with blankets, clothing, or other insulating material and raise the legs to help prevent shock.
  • Attempt to stop bleeding through the use of direct pressure, elevation, and pressure points.  
  • Do not try to give liquids to an unconscious person.
  • If the electricity goes out, use flashlights or battery powered lanterns.  Do not use candles, matches, or open flames indoors after the earthquake because of possible gas leaks.
  • Wear sturdy shoes in areas covered with debris and broken glass.
  • Check your home for structural damage. If you have any doubt about safety in your home, have it inspected by a professional before entering.
  • Check chimneys for visual damage and have them inspected by a professional before lighting a fire.
  • Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline, and other flammable liquids in your home.  Evacuate the building if gasoline fumes are detected and the building is not properly ventilated.
  • Visually inspect utility lines and appliances for damage.
  • If you smell gas or hear a hissing or blowing sound, open a window and leave. Shut off the main gas valve. Report the leak to the gas company. Stay out of the building. If you shut off the gas at the main valve, only a professional should turn it back on.
  • Switch off the electrical power at the main fuse box or circuit breaker if electrical damage is known or suspected.
  • Shut off the water supply at the main valve if water pipes are damaged.
  • Do not flush toilets until you know the sewer lines are intact.
  • Open cabinets cautiously.  Beware of heavy objects that can fall from shelves.
  • Use the phone only to report life-threatening emergencies (to prevent overloading of the phone system).
  • Listen to news reports and monitor information sources (such as TCAlert if you are on campus).
  • Stay off the streets.  If you must go out, watch for fallen objects; downed electrical wires; and weakened walls, bridges, roads, and sidewalks. 
  • Stay away from other damaged areas unless your assistance has been requested by response agencies or you are a trained emergency responder operating with an organized team (such as a local CERT team).
  • If you live in coastal areas, be aware of possible tsunamis.  When you receive a tsunami warning, get away from the beach and go to high ground.  Bring your "GO KIT"

What you should do:

  • Evacuate the building using the nearest available stairwell or exit. Do not use elevators.
  • If an alarm is not sounding, pull closest fire alarm on your way out, if possible. If the alarm does not work call Ext. 3333 or 212-678-3333 and notify Public Safety of the fire and malfunction.
  • Close doors on your way out, if possible.
  • Assist mobility-impaired persons out of the building and to evacuation assembly points. If the person cannot be assisted safely out of the building then exit and notify an FET member immediately.
  • Exit the building and await further instructions.
  • Keep streets, fire lanes, hydrant areas and walkways clear for emergency vehicles and first responders.

Persons with Disabilities

  • It is suggested that individuals who use wheelchairs or who have a mobility related disability prepare for an emergency ahead of time by instructing coworkers or fellow students on how to assist in an emergency.
  • During an emergency evacuation due to fire, building elevators should not be used.
  • Evacuation may not always be necessary or advisable. If persons with mobility related disabilities cannot be transported from the building without using an elevator, assist persons with disabilities to the nearest fire stairway landing on each floor of the building. Immediately notify TC Public Safety staff or other rescue workers on-scene upon the arrival of persons with disabilities to the rescue area.

If Trapped in a Building:

  • Remain calm.
  • Call 3333 for TC Office of Public Safety and provide your name, phone no. and location.
  • Open a window and hang a piece of clothing outside to mark your whereabouts for rescue workers.
  • Stay near the floor, where visibility will be better and the air will be less toxic.
  • Periodically call-out loudly for help so rescue workers can locate you. Avoid flammable liquids, compressed gas cylinders, etc. that may be in a room or lab with you.

Portable Fire Extinguisher Use:

Only trained personnel are authorized to use any portable fire extinguisher that may be present to fight fires. If there is any doubt about safe extinguishing of the fire then exit immediately and report findings.

What you should do:

  • Shut off the source of the gas leak if immediately apparent, if it can be easily corrected (e.g., Bunsen Burner, kitchen appliance), and if you have the knowledge and ability to do so without jeopardizing your personal safety.
  • Open windows and, if there is ventilation on, leave it running. If ventilation is off do not switch it on.
  • Evacuate the building and report to the evacuation assembly point. DO NOT PULL THE FIRE ALARM.
  • Notify Public Safety at 212-678-3333 and provide the following information:
    • Location of the site affected
    • Type of problem or outage
    • Do not hang up until advised to do so by dispatcher.

What you should know:

  • Depending on the extent and expected duration of the outage, the Incident Command Team will be activated to determine follow-on responses such as relocation, consolidation of food service,Depending on the extent and expected duration of the outage, the Incident Command Team  etc.
  • During failure of electricity, gas, water, or other utilities Teachers College will remain in operation to the extent possible.

What Not to Do:

  • Do not use the phone in the area of the leak.
  • Do not turn light switches on or off.
  • Do not activate the fire alarm system.
  • Do not turn electrical equipment on or off.
  • Do not use elevators in the area.
  • Do not return to the evacuated area until advised to do so by the Office of Public Safety and/or the FDNY.

What you should do:

Spill/Release Inside the Building:

  • Any spill of a hazardous substance must be reported immediately to the TC Office of Public Safety at Ext. 3333. Provide any information you may have as to the location and extent of the spill, and as to the chemicals involved or stored in the area.
  • Stop the SOURCE of the spill if possible but DO NOT attempt to clean up the spill yourself.
  • Evacuate the building if directed by the EH&S Office, Public Safety or the FDNY if the hazardous material spill cannot be contained or controlled.
  • Clear the area to ensure no hazardous material exposures are occurring.
  • Once you are in a safe place, dial Public Safety at Ext. 3333 and provide the following information:
    • Building Name
    • Your name and phone number
    • Location of the spill and/or materials released
    • Characteristics of spill (colors, smells, visible gases)
    • Name of substance, if known
    • Injuries, if any
    • Do not hang up until advised to do so by dispatcher (unless calling from the hazard area).
  • DO NOT eat or drink anything or apply cosmetics in the area impacted by the spill.

Spill Outside the Building:

  • Notify Public Safety at Ext. 3333 and provide the following information:
    • Building address, including nearest cross street or nearest adjacent building(s)
    • Your name and phone number
    • Location of the spill and/or materials released
    • Characteristics of spill (colors, smells, visible gases)
    • Name of substance, if known
    • Injuries, if any
    • Do not hang up until advised to do so by dispatcher (unless calling from the hazard area).
  • If it is a small spill and does not pose an immediate health risk, do the following:
    • Alert others in the immediate area to leave the area
    • Restrict access to the affected area
    • Try to protect drainage areas and soil from contamination
  • If the spill poses a threat to human health, do the following:
    • Get inside the closest building where you can safely shelter-in-place
    • Do not leave the sheltering area until notified by Public Safety or first responders that it is safe to do so

Toxic Fumes/Vapors:

  • Toxic fumes can infiltrate a building from various sources – improperly stored chemicals, faulty building systems and equipment, fires, engine exhaust, etc.
  • If the presence of toxic fumes is suspected, the affected area should be evacuated. Use a telephone away from the area and notify the Office of Public Safety at Ext. 3333. It may be possible to ventilate an affected area by opening windows and/or activating exhaust fans, provided such action is undertaken by trained personnel.

What you should know:

  • Hazardous material spills may occur inside a building, such as a spill in a chemistry lab or facilities closet.
  • More likely, incidents of disaster magnitude will occur outside, such as a truck accident involving larger quantities of toxic material.
  • An emergency response is not required for incidental spills which are classified as minor spills that pose no threat to human health, property or the environment.
  • If an indoor release meets one or more of the following conditions, it will constitute an emergency and require emergency response efforts:
    • Over 500-milliters of a liquid or 1-pound of a solid for known chemicals or any size of acutely toxic, radioactive or unidentified chemical or combination of chemicals (i.e. strong oxidizers, phenol, reactive, peroxide, carcinogen, P and U listed waste);
    • Human fluids, such as but not limited to blood, urine, and saliva, should ONLY be cleaned up by someone who has received Bloodborne Pathogens training;
    • Mercury spills should only be cleaned up by someone trained to do so such as the EH&S Director or Specialist.
  • If toxic chemicals come in contact with your skin, immediately flush the affected area with clean water for at least 15 minutes.
    • Note: If the substance is in a powder or dry form carefully brush the chemical off, DO NOT USE WATER.

Identify the source

  • If you know the source of the water and are confident of your abilities to stop it (i.e. unclog a drain, turn off water, etc.), do so cautiously.
  • Protect from water damage
  • Cover large objects with plastic sheeting
  • Carefully remove small or light objects out of the emergency area

Contact authorities

  • Call 3333 for TC Office of Public Safety

What to report

  • Report your name, phone number, and the location and severity of the leak or flood. Indicate whether art collections, books, or other valuables are involved or are in imminent danger.
  • Report any persons with disabilities who are in the area and may need to be relocated.

Provide assistance

  • Provide assistance to persons with mobility related disabilities. Notify the TC Office of Public Safety if persons with mobility related disabilities are in the area and may need to be relocated.
  • Provide assistance to other individuals in your immediate area.

Use Caution

  • If there are electrical appliances or electrical outlets near the leak, use extreme caution.
  • If there is any possible danger, evacuate the area.
  • Flood water can be contaminated. Avoid contact with sewer water, as it poses a serious health risk.
  • Avoid standing in flood water, as it can carry electrical current.
  • Avoid walking through flooded areas. As few as six inches of moving water can knock a person down.

What you should do:

  • Dial Public Safety at 212-678-3333 or call 911 or direct someone to do so and provide the following information:
    • Building name
    • Exact location within the building
    • Your name and phone number
    • Nature of the emergency /description of injured person’s injury or illness
    • Do not hang up until advised to do so by the dispatcher.
  • Render first aid if you are trained to do so.
  • If an AED is available, you may administer if you are trained to do so.
  • Stay calm. Keep injured person warm with a coat or blanket.
  • Do not move the injured person unless there is danger of further injury.
  • Do not give the injured person anything to eat or drink.

What you should know:

  • Medical emergencies and accidents may occur at any time and may involve a student, employee or visitor.
  • Some emergencies may only require first aid care, while others may require immediate medical attention.
  • Report all medical emergencies to Public Safety by dialing 212-678-3333.

What you should do:

  • Notify Public Safety at 212-678-3333 and provide the following information:
    • Location of the site affected
    • Type of problem or outage
    • Do not hang up until advised to do so by dispatcher.
  • Access your issued department flashlight. DO NOT light candles or other types of flames for lighting.
  • Proceed cautiously to an area that has emergency lighting.
  • Provide assistance to fellow occupants, especially those with disabilities.
  • FET members will carefully open their nearest evacuation box and utilize the flashlights to check on or help evacuate occupants.
  • Advise employees/students of the problem and actions to be taken once a determination has been made.

What you should know:

  • Depending on the extent and expected duration of the outage, the Incident Command Team will be activated to determine follow-up responses such as relocation, consolidation of food service, etc.
  • During failure of electricity, gas, water, or other utilities Teachers College will remain in operation to the extent possible.
  • There is no need to immediately evacuate. Wait for instructions. You may be advised to Shelter in Place.

Emergency Phone Numbers 

  • Campus phone X3333
    Non campus or from cell phone 212-678-3333

Public Safety Alerts


Non-emergency College Services

  • TC PS Non emergency 3220
  • TC PS Administrative Office 3111
  • TC Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S)   8164/6640
  • TC Facilities 3010  
  • TC Residential services 3235  
  • TC Student Development and Activities 3690  
  • TC Risk Management 3482

TC College Services

  • TC General College Information  3000
  • Office of Diversity 8410   
  • CU  PS 212-854-5555    
  • CUMC 212-854-(HELP) 4357 
  • Barnard College  212-854-3362  
  • Counseling and Psychological Services   212-854-2878 
  • CU Medical Center 212-305-8100