Emergency Preparedness and Response: Emergency Types

Emergency Types & Responses

The following emergency types will help you respond to potential emergency situations and develop a response plan.


In general, how you respond to an active shooter will be dictated by the specific circumstances of the encounter. If you find yourself involved in an active shooter situation, try to remain calm and call 413-572-5262 or 911 as soon as possible.

If a hostile intruder is on campus, you will be asked to Lockdown. You should:

  1. Remain calm.
  2. Warn other faculty, staff, students, and visitors to take immediate shelter.
  3. Silence your cell phone.
  4. Go to a room that can be locked or barricaded.
  5. Lock and barricade every door and window.
  6. Turn off the lights.
  7. Close all blinds.
  8. Block all of the windows.
  9. Turn off any other devices that emit sound.
  10. Keep yourself out of sight and take adequate cover/protection (i.e., concrete walls, thick desks, filing cabinets).

If a hostile intruder enters your building, classroom, or office, you should take action by using the Run, Hide, Fight program.


  • Have an escape route and plan in mind.
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • Keep your hands visible to responding police officers.


  • Hide in an area out of the active shooter’s view.
  • Block entry to your hiding place and lock doors.
  • Silence all cell phones.


  • Use this as a last resort and only when your life is in imminent danger.
  • Attempt to incapacitate the shooter.
  • Act with physical aggression. Throw items at the shooter if possible.

An active shooter/hostile intruder is a person who appears to be actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in populated areas on campus. In most cases, active shooters use a firearm(s) and display no pattern or method for selection of their victims. In some cases, active shooters use other weapons and/or Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) to cause additional harm and act as an impediment to law enforcement and emergency services responders.


All crimes should be reported to University Police at 413-572-5262. University Police personnel will respond and call the local police for assistance if necessary. If you witness a crime in progress, call University Police immediately. Give your name, location, and phone number. Do not hang up until the dispatcher tells you to do so. If it is safe, remain at the location until an officer contacts you.

You can also submit a report here.



  • Call 911 immediately.
  • Give your name, location, and telephone number.
  • Give as much information as possible regarding the nature of the injury or illness, whether or not the victim is conscious, etc.
  • Do not hang up until directed to do so by the emergency operator.
  • Return to the victim; administer first aid, if you know how; and keep the victim as calm and comfortable as possible.
  • Do not move a seriously injured person unless there is a life threatening situation.
  • Remain with the victim. University Police will respond immediately to the scene and will summon additional medical personnel if necessary.

If you are in contact with a student who appears to be an immediate threat to their own safety or that of others, call University Police at 413-572-5262. You may also:

Recognize the Symptoms and Observe Any:

  • Significant changes in academic performance or classroom conduct.
  • Unusual behaviors or appearance.
  • Reactions to traumatic events or changes in relationships.
  • References to suicide, homicide, or death.

Respond to the Student:

  • Speak privately with the student.
  • Directly and candidly discuss your observations and concerns.
  • Offer support and assistance.

Refer Them to a Mental Health Professional at the Counseling Center:

  • Be caring, firm, and straightforward in your referral.
  • Consider calling from your office or escorting the student to the Counseling Center.

Consult with On-Campus Resources – Discuss your concerns about a student with any of these campus departments:


Westfield State University implements the following procedures for announcing operational changes during periods of inclement winter weather:

  • The decision to delay or close the University due to inclement weather is made in consultation with senior University officials.
  • Closings and delays are announced using the following methods:
    • WSUAlert (RAVE) includes:
      • Email
      • Text
      • Phone Call
    • Emergency/Weather closing hotline at 413-572-5411
    • University website home page
    • Email notification to faculty, staff and students
    • Local radio and television stations
  • Do not come to campus when a weather-related closing is announced. Employee access to the inner-campus is typically limited to emergency vehicles and snow removal personnel. If a weather closing is possible, take any needed items from campus in advance as you may not be permitted to enter until snow removal is complete.
  • Parking Ban - In the event of a parking ban, notifications may be posted through the above means. However, email is the official notification method of the University and will be the primary method of delivery for these notifications.

Severe thunderstorms are storms that are capable of producing hail that is an inch or larger in addition to strong wind gusts.

  • Monitor weather forecasts for up-to-date information.
    • Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Severe storms possible. Be prepared.
    • Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Severe storms expected. Seek shelter.
  • Hail
    • Seek protective shelter immediately and remain there until hail has stopped.
  • Lightning
    • If you hear thunder, seek protective shelter immediately.
    • Stay away from tall, isolated trees.
    • Also stay away from water, wet items, and metal objects, such as fences and poles. Water and metal are excellent conductors of electricity.

A tornado watch is issued by the National Weather Service when tornadoes are possible in the area.

  • Monitor local TV stations and weather websites for severe weather updates.
  • Continue to watch the skies for signs of severe weather.
    • Dark clouds 
    • Severe Thunder and Lightning

A tornado warning is issued when a tornado has been sighted, or indicated by weather radar in the area. Shelter in Place:

  • The campus Emergency Notification System (ENS) and sirens will also be activated.
  • Immediately go to a safe location such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or a small interior room on the lowest level of a sturdy building.
  • Stay away from all windows, doors, and outside walls.
  • Protect yourself by covering your head or neck with your arms, putting materials such as furniture and blankets around or on top of you.
  • Remain inside until the tornado has passed or cleared to leave.
  • If outdoors, lie in a ditch or low-lying area or crouch near a building if shelter is not available or if there is no time to get indoors.

Severe weather is a storm capable of producing hail that is an inch or larger in addition to wind gusts over 59 mph. Hail can damage property such as plants, roofs, and vehicles. Meanwhile, winds this strong are able to break off large branches, knock over trees, or cause structural damage to them. These can also produce lightning, heavy rain, and tornadoes.

A tornado is a violent, rotating column of air extending from the base of a thunderstorm down to the ground. Tornadoes are capable of destroying well-made structures, uprooting trees, and hurling objects through the air. Tornadoes can occur at any time of day or night and at any time of the year.

  • Activate the fire alarm system by pulling a fire alarm station on your way out of the building.
  • If time permits, stabilize lab procedures, turn off stoves/ovens, and unplug or disable any device that could make a dangerous situation even worse.
  • Leave the building via the nearest exit. Warn others as you leave.
  • Do not use elevators.
  • Feel doors before opening; if a door is hot, don’t open it.
  • As you leave, close all doors and windows if it is safe to do so.
  • Once outside, report the fire by calling 911.
  • If trapped, keep the doors closed and place clothes or blankets under them to keep out smoke. Signal for help by hanging an object (e.g., such as a jacket or shirt) out of the window to attract attention.
  • Remain at least 300 feet away from the building and await further instructions.
  • Keep all relevant roadways open and beware of approaching emergency vehicles. Notify emergency responders of anyone trapped inside, especially anyone with a physical disability who cannot evacuate.
  • Do not go back in the building for any reason until an authorized University official deems it safe to re-enter.

You may be asked to Shelter In Place in unaffected areas of the campus.


Chemical Spill

  • Call University Police at 413-572-5262 or 911 immediately.
  • Do not attempt to clean up the spill.
  • Remove yourself and others from the area.
  • Close the doors to isolate the area.
  • If anyone had contact with the hazardous material, they should be isolated and await treatment by emergency personnel. Do not leave the site until you are cleared by emergency responders.
  • Do not pull the fire alarm unless there is a fire.
  • Remain available to provide first responders with information about the spill, spill area, and chemical(s).
  • Evacuate the building if first responders issue the Evacuation order.
  • Re-enter the building only when an “all clear” is provided by first responders.

Bomb threats usually come by telephone. If you receive a bomb threat call, remain calm and obtain as much information as possible from the caller:

  • Do not hang up the phone.
  • Pay attention to details including:
    • Voice
    • Gender
    • Background noise
    • Distinct accent
    • Words used
  • Ask questions which may include:
    • When will the bomb explode?
    • What kind of bomb is it?
    • What will cause it to explode?
    • Where is it right now?
    • What does it look like?
    • Did you place the bomb?
    • How many are there?
    • What is your address?
    • What is your name?

Do NOT pull the fire alarm to evacuate the building.

You may be asked to Shelter In Place in unaffected areas of the campus.


Do not open the suspicious item. If you have opened it, remain calm.

  • Notify University Police at 413-572-5262 immediately.
  • Do not move the letter or package or examine it further.
  • Keep others out of the area. Close off the area if possible.
  • If possible, limit the use of two-way radios and cell phones near the suspicious item.
  • Do not attempt to clean or cover anything that might have spilled from a package.
  • If the package is leaking a substance or powder and you come into contact with the substance, keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, mouth, or any part of your face. Do not touch others or let others touch you.
  • Follow all instructions given by emergency responders.

Building Evacuation

  • All building occupants are required to evacuate when the fire alarm sounds or upon the order of an authorized University official such as University Police or a Emergency Response Team member.
  • If time permits, stabilize lab procedures, turn off active stoves/ovens, and unplug or disable any device that could make a dangerous situation even worse.
  • Move to the closest exit and proceed down the EXIT stairwell in a safe and orderly manner. Do NOT use elevators.
  • Remain at least 300 feet away from the building and await further instructions.
  • Keep all relevant roadways open and beware of approaching emergency vehicles. Notify emergency responders of anyone trapped inside, especially anyone with a physical disability who cannot evacuate.
  • Do not go back in the building for any reason until an authorized University official deems it safe to re-enter.

Campus building evacuation refers to the organized and orderly process of relocating individuals from a building or a group of buildings at Westfield State University to a safer location. This procedure is typically initiated in response to emergencies or potentially hazardous situations such as fires, natural disasters, gas leaks, bomb threats, or other incidents that may pose a threat to the safety and well-being of those present in the building.

The primary goal of a campus building evacuation is to ensure the prompt and safe evacuation of all occupants, including students, faculty, staff, and visitors from the affected building(s) to designated assembly points or other secure locations. Evacuation plans are developed in advance, detailing evacuation routes, exit points, assembly areas, and procedures to follow during different types of emergencies.

Whole Campus Evacuation

  • If a partial or full evacuation of the campus is necessary, monitor the Emergency Notification System and University website for additional information.
  • Those in need of transportation will be directed to areas to await transport to an off-campus site.

A whole campus evacuation refers to the comprehensive and organized process of evacuating an entire university premises, including all buildings, facilities, and outdoor areas due to imminent danger or emergencies that pose a threat to the safety and well-being of everyone present on the campus.

This type of evacuation is typically undertaken in response to severe and immediate threats such as:

  1. Natural Disasters: Events like earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, or severe storms that can cause extensive damage to buildings and infrastructure.
  2. Fire Emergencies: Large and uncontrollable fires that jeopardize the safety of individuals and the campus environment.
  3. Hazardous Material Releases: Chemical spills, gas leaks, or other situations involving dangerous substances that could pose health risks.
  4. Terrorist Threats: Credible threats or incidents of terrorism that necessitate the evacuation of the entire campus.
  5. Public Health Emergencies: Outbreaks of contagious diseases or other health crises that require the dispersal of people to prevent further spread.

A whole campus evacuation involves several key components:

  1. Emergency Notifications: Promptly informing all members of the campus community about the need for evacuation through various communication channels, such as text messages, emails, sirens, loudspeakers, and social media.
  2. Evacuation Routes and Assembly Points: Designating clear and safe evacuation routes for people to follow, along with predetermined assembly points where individuals can gather after evacuating buildings.
  3. Coordination and Leadership: Establishing an incident command center and designating emergency response teams and leaders to oversee the evacuation process and communicate instructions.
  4. Assistance for Vulnerable Populations: Ensuring that individuals with disabilities, medical needs, or other special requirements receive appropriate assistance during the evacuation.
  5. Transportation: Coordinating transportation for those who may have difficulty evacuating on foot, such as providing buses for large groups or individuals with mobility challenges.
  6. Accountability: Keeping track of evacuated individuals to ensure that everyone has safely reached the assembly points and accounting for any missing persons.
  7. Re-entry and Recovery: Developing plans for when it's safe to re-enter the campus and procedures for recovery and returning to normal operations.

Evacuating the disabled

Advance Planning is Important. If you may need assistance evacuating in an emergency you should pre-plan and contact the Banacos Center at 413-572-5789 or banacos@westfield.ma.edu

The Banacos Center works with University Police regarding the living arrangements and class schedules of disabled students. Physically disabled employees should contact Human Resources directly for assistance in pre-planning.

  • Evaluate your need to identify yourself as someone who requires assistance during an evacuation. Remember that some people who may need assistance have no visible disability.
  • Know what you need to communicate ahead of time. Be clear and concise. If you have difficulty speaking, consider using a carry-with-you pre-printed message.
  • Establish a personal network consisting of people who are regularly in the same area as you. Try not to depend on any one person as they may not always be available. If you can, communicate your capabilities and limitations to those in your network.
  • Determine all your evacuation options and prioritize them.
    • Three Considerations:
      • Being carried – You have a chance to get out, but you and/or your helpers may be injured in the process.
      • Areas of Refuge – Areas of refuge are fire-resistant spaces where people unable to use stairs can call for help. An area of refuge is a good option if you feel that you may be injured if you evacuate using the stairs; however, they are typically not available in older buildings and you may be overcome by smoke before getting help from rescue personnel.
      • Use of elevators – Elevators are useful in non-fire emergencies; however, they are shut down automatically if the fire alarm is activated. The elevator shaft can also become a chimney for smoke and the power can go out, leaving the elevator stuck between floors.

If a lockdown is ordered:

  • Stay inside! Do not leave the building unless you are confronted with imminent danger inside.
  • If outside, seek shelter in the nearest building.
  • Take shelter in a lockable room if possible. Once the door is locked, do not unlock it or open the door to let others in.
  • If the door does not automatically or manually lock or you do not have the key to lock the door, close and then block the door using whatever is available -- door wedges, desks, file cabinets, other furniture, etc.
  • Close windows, shades and blinds, and avoid being seen and heard from outside the room if possible.
  • Monitor the Emergency Notification System for updates and further instructions.
  • Report any emergency or unusual condition to University Police at 413-572-5262.
  • Once in a secure location, do not leave until receiving the “all clear” from a Police Officer, University Police, the Emergency Notification System, or website communication.

An imminent threat of violence may cause a lockdown of all or part of campus. Some exterior doors will lock automatically. Emergency responders may lock others manually. The goal is to limit exposure of students, faculty, and staff to danger by preventing dangerous persons from entering campus buildings.


If a Shelter In Place is ordered:

  • When outside, seek shelter in the nearest building, preferably in an interior room with few windows.
  • Allow access to others seeking shelter. Remember: a Shelter In Place order means there are dangerous environmental conditions but NOT any known threat of violent behavior. Allowing others into the building will not jeopardize your safety.
  • Close all exterior doors, windows, and any other openings to the outside.
  • Avoid overcrowding by selecting several rooms if necessary.
  • Monitor the Emergency Notification System and email for further instructions.
  • Report any emergency or unusual condition to University Police at 413-572-5262.
  • Do not leave the building until receiving the “all clear” from a Police Officer, University Police, the Emergency Notification System, or website communication.

Shelter In Place is designed to keep you safe while indoors if dangerous environmental conditions exist, such as extreme weather or a hazardous materials release.