Emergency Preparation & Response

Emergencies such as power outages, earthquakes, and random crimes happen everywhere. The Department of Campus Safety is committed to ensuring that all Whittier students, faculty, and staff live, learn, and work in a secure environment. Toward this aim, Campus Safety continually reviews its emergency management procedures, which involves refining processes designed to deal with various types of emergencies and monitoring developing events and issues in a rapidly changing environment.

Active Shooter

When an individual sees or believes that they have observed or heard a potential threat on or near the Whittier College campus, they should treat the threat as real, until it can be determined to be otherwise. In case of emergency, contact the Whittier Police Department (WPD) by calling 911.  Once WPD has been notified, call Campus Safety at 562-907-4211 to report what you have observed or heard.

Move to a safe location that is securable and offers protection from potential threat.
If available, refer to the Active Shooter Procedure posted in all classrooms and most other buildings on campus.  This procedure will provide the following information:

What to report

  • Your specific location—building name and office/room number
  • Number of people at your specific location
  • Injuries—number injured, types of injuries
  • Assailant’s location, number of suspects, race/gender, clothing description, physical features, type of weapon (long gun or hand gun), backpack, shooters identity if known, separate explosions from gunfire, etc.

Securing immediate area

  • Lock and barricade doors and windows
  • Turn off lights
  • Close blinds
  • Block windows
  • Turn off radios and computer monitors
  • Keep occupants calm, quiet, and out of sight
  • Keep yourself out of sight and take adequate cover/protection, i.e., hide behind concrete walls or thick desks (cover may protect you from bullets/flying objects)
  • Silence all cellular phones
  • Place signs in exterior windows to identify the location of injured persons


Contacting authorities

  • Whittier Police Department: 911
  • Campus Safety Emergency: 562-907-4911

Bomb Threat

An individual who receives a bomb threat should ask the notifying person:

  • When will the bomb explode?
  • Where is the bomb right now?
  • What does it look like?
  • What kind of bomb is it?
  • What will cause it to explode?
  • Why did you place the bomb?
  • What is your address?
  • What is your name?

If possible, tape the phone call.  Write down any noises or sounds from the phone call and any answers to the above questions. Faculty/Staff should then notify a supervisor as quickly as possible and follow departmental protocol for response; students should immediately contact Campus Safety at 562-907-4911.  Campus Safety will then follow these procedures:

  • Conduct a search of the building/area
  • Contact local authorities, who will then become the incident leaders
  • In coordination with department representatives, determine whether or not to evacuate.
  • Contact the College's Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT), as appropriate.

Local authorities and/or Campus Safety will guide the investigation and determine whether the building is safe for re-entry if evacuated. The incident will be reviewed and operations will return to normal once the threat has been cleared.


In the event of an earthquake, the following guidelines should be followed:

  • Remain calm. Think through the consequences of any action you take. Try to stay calm and reassure others.
  • Watch for flying glass, falling plaster, bricks, light fixtures, and other objects. Watch out for high bookcases, shelves, and other furniture, which might slide or topple. Stay away from windows or mirrors.
  • Encourage others to check for injuries around you. Do not attempt to move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury.
  • Do not eat or drink anything from open containers near shattered glass. Liquids may be strained through a clean handkerchief or cloth if danger of glass contamination exists.
  • Immediately clean up spilled medicines, drugs and other potentially harmful materials.
  • Check for fires or fire hazards.
  • Wear shoes in all areas near debris or broken glass.
  • Do not use matches, lighters, or anything with a spark or flame until you are sure no gas leaks exist.
  • Do not operate electrical switches or appliances. These create sparks, which could ignite gas from broken lines.
  • Do not use your telephone except for genuine emergency calls. Turn on your radio for damage reports and information.
  • Do not spread rumors. They can cause great stress following disasters.
  • Be prepared for additional earthquake shocks called “aftershocks.” Although most of these are smaller than the main shock, some may be large enough to cause additional damage.
  • Campus Safety Officers, with the help of Resident Advisors and Building/Zone Captains, will begin to evacuate buildings to their designated Evacuation Zones once it is safe to do so.
  • If those around you are all right, contact your Resident Advisor/Building Captain to see if you can be of help.
  • Respond to requests for help from police, firefighters, civil defense workers, and relief organizations. BUT do not go into damaged areas unless your help has been requested. Cooperate fully with public safety officials.
  • Do not leave campus without checking in with your Building Captain, RA, assistant director, or other staff member. Follow their example. Usually, it is best not to run outside.

When Indoors:

  • If you are in danger, get under a table, desk, or bed, in a corner away from windows, or in a strong doorway.
  • If you are in a classroom area, get under a desk. Do not dash for an exit, since stairways may be damaged or jammed with people. Power for elevators may fail.
  • Check closets and storage areas. Open closets and cabinet doors carefully and watch for objects falling from shelves.

When Outdoors:

  • Do not touch downed power lines or objects touched by the lines..
  • Do not go sightseeing. Keep the streets clear for emergency vehicles.
  • If you are outside, avoid high buildings, walls, power poles and other objects which could fall. If possible, move to an open area away from all hazards. If you are in a car, stop in the safest place available, again, in an open area, and remain inside your car.


In the event of smoke or fire:

  • Pull the fire alarm.
  • Evacuate the building immediately when you hear a fire alarm.
  • Notify Campus Safety at 562-907-4911.

Initially, local authorities will assume authority of the scene and work with the Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) leader in a unified command.  Zone/Building Captains are responsible for following procedures to the extent possible, as trained, including directing occupants to:

  • Avoid taking chances—life safety is the first priority.
  • Activate the nearest fire alarm.
  • Stay low and proceed to the nearest exit.
  • Close the doors behind them to contain heat, fire and smoke if possible as they exit.
  • Evacuate to a designated area that is more than 50 feet away from the building in question or to a safe area as designated by Campus Safety.
  • Notify local authorities or Campus Safety about any individuals possibly still inside the building.
  • Follow guidance from local authorities.

First responders who are appropriately trained may try to extinguish the fire with fire extinguishers if they feel comfortable doing so; however, when in doubt, evacuate.

  • Do not take chances with the fire if you are not trained; life-safety is priority.
  • Campus Safety contacts the appropriate CIRT members to inform college administration of the situation and the response, and to support Unified Command in decision-making.
  • Counseling may assist students, staff, and third parties if needed.

Once local authorities (fire department, police department) have returned the site to CIRT, internal investigations must be completed prior to returning to the department for the resumption and recovery phase.  In addition to investigating and mitigating further damages, the College contacts appropriate insurance personnel to report damages.

  • Facilities Management assists in the initial cleanup of the site once appropriate investigations are completed.
  • All appropriate regulatory concerns will be addressed during the cleanup.
  • The office of the Vice President of Finance and Administration coordinates the restoration phase with Facilities Management, the insurance provider and specific departments in assessing damages, providing documentation of loss and preparing final claims documents for insurance recovery.
  • Campus Safety follows up with local authorities on investigation of the incident in addition to the office of the Vice President of Finance and Administration should further claims or litigation be forthcoming.

Emergency Alerts

In the case of an emergency—big or small – the College will communicate with the campus community in the following ways:

  • Blackboard Connect emergency alert system
    • Text Messaging
    • Voice Calls
    • Email
  • Whittier College home page
  • Social media channels – Twitter and Facebook