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This information is excerpted from the School of Visual Arts Emergency Response Plan and is intended for non-emergency personnel. Faculty, staff and students should review these suggested responses to become familiar with what emergency responders expect of them in an emergency. Incidents are listed here based on likelihood.

Medical Emergency

For serious medical illnesses or injuries, call 911 then call SVA Security.

What to do when you call 911:

1. State that medical care is needed.
2. Provide your campus location, including the building and room number if known.
3. Provide the location of the injured or sick person (if different from your location).
4. Provide the person’s present condition (e.g. bleeding, breathing erratically, unconscious).
5. Recount the nature of the injury or medical problem if the person has been able to tell you what is wrong.
6. Follow the directions of the dispatcher, who will tell you if an ambulance is required or if the injured individual may be brought in to the emergency room.
7. Remain calm as the emergency responder will arrive at the scene as soon as possible.

What to do while waiting for medical help to arrive on the scene:

1. Return to the injured person; do not leave the scene or leave the injured person alone again.
2. Do not move the injured person.
3. Give first aid if you are qualified to do so.

Report illness and injuries to students to the Student Affairs Office at (212.592.2214). Injuries to employees should be reported to Human Resources at (212.592.2645) within 48 hours of the injury occurring.

  • Return to the injured person; do not leave the scene or leave the injured person alone again.
  • Do not move the injured person.
  • Give first aid if you are qualified to do so.
Severe Weather (Thunderstorms, Winter Storms, Tornado, Hurricane)

1. Students, Faculty and Staff members will receive instructions via SVAlert of any impending severe weather events.
2. Essential personnel may be required to remain on campus overnight during severe weather events.
3. As a general rule, classes will be held whenever possible.
a. If necessary, classes may be moved to alternate classrooms.
b. If a faculty member is unable to meet for class, the faculty member must notify his/her department as soon as possible.
c. The Registrar will send an email to students enrolled in affected classes. Faculty members should also attempt to send an email to students notifying them of the change. However, students may not receive this as the faculty member may be without power or otherwise have access to email.
4. Any decision to close the College will come from the Executive Vice President and will be communicated to the Emergency Management Committee, the Director of Human Resources and a member of Communication staff. This message will be communicated through SVAlert and other communication means, depending on the scope of the impact.


This means that conditions are right for severe weather.
1. If you are in the watch area, seek shelter immediately and take precautions before leaving shelter.
2. If you are in a vehicle, get to your destination and seek shelter in a sturdy building expediently.
3. Monitor news sources for updates on weather conditions and effects on the Davidson area.


This means spotters and/or radar have identified the weather emergency in the area.

1. If you are in the warning area, seek shelter immediately.
2. If you are in a vehicle, get out and seek shelter in a sturdy building.
3. If the severe weather involves high winds and a building is not available, a depression such as a ditch or ravine may offer some protection.
4. Do not open windows. This can actually increase damage to the building. Stay away from windows and exterior doors.
5. Basements, interior hallways on the lower floors and small interior rooms on the lower floors offer the best shelter.
6. Do not attempt to turn utilities on or off. Do not use landline phones.
7. Report injuries and damage to 911. Notify your departmental office.
8. After the all clear, leave badly damaged buildings and do not attempt to return unless directed to do so by the SVA Security Officers or Facilities Management.

With certain types of severe weather, evacuations prior to the arrival of the weather may be declared by state or local authorities. All SVA community members will abide by these types of evacuations and follow the directions of the declaring authorities.


Flooding may be caused by a number of hazards, from severe weather and its impact to a building leak or sprinkler activation. The effects of flooding on a building will be similar; it is the scope of the incident that will vary from localized to building wide. 

1. For localized flooding, evacuate the area. If the flooding is caused by a small leak, call the security desk phone or building superintendent. If the flooding covers multiple rooms, is caused by a major leak, or a sprinkler flow, call 911. Give:

  • Your location
  • Your name and phone number
  • Type of incident
  • Floor
  • Room number

2. Leave badly damaged buildings and do not attempt to return unless directed to do so by the SVA Security Officers or Facilities Management.

3. Do not attempt to turn utilities on or off.

4. Report injuries and damage to 911. Notify your departmental office.

Fire, Explosion or Smoke Emergencies

What to do if the alarm sounds and the strobes flash (In Class E buildings: 132 West 21st Street, 133/141 West 21st Street, 136 West 21st Street, 23 Lexington Avenue, 335 West 16th Street, 380 Second Avenue, 601 West 26th Street):

1. Unless there is smoke or fire on your floor, do not evacuate the space. Wait for instructions that will be issued via the Emergency Public Address System. The building Fire Safety Director will make an announcement informing you of what to do.
2. You may be asked to “shelter in place” (stay where you are), or to vacate the floor. If you are told to vacate the floor, Please leave the floor via the stairwells and descend at least two floors before re-entering the building, or you may continue down to the street level.
3. Never use the elevator during an emergency
4. Persons that are injured or cannot descend the stairs on their own should wait in the stair well for assistance from the FDNY.

What to do if the alarm sounds and the strobes flash (In Coded Interior Alarm buildings: 205-209 East 23rd Street, 215 East 23rd Street, 214 East 21st Street, 17 Gramercy Park South, 101 Ludlow Street, 333 West 23rd Street):

1. Evacuate the area immediately and proceed via the stairs to the ground floor exits. When leaving a room, please close the door behind you. This will slow the spread of smoke through the building.
2. Never use the elevator during an emergency.
3. Persons that are injured or cannot descend the stairs on their own should wait in the stair well for assistance from the FDNY.

  • Never ignore an alarm
  • Follow the directions of the Floor Wardens or the Fire Safety Director
  • If you are told to vacate an area, please close (but do not lock) the room door. This will keep smoke from spreading.
  • Always vacate the space via the stairs; never use the elevator during an emergency.
  • If you smell smoke or see fire, don’t hesitate, activate the nearest alarm pull station and get everyone out of the area.
  • The Security Officer who knows the area involved should meet the Fire and Police Departments, and give specifics. Notify police and/or firefighters on the scene if you suspect someone may be trapped inside the building.
  • Report potential hazards or address fire prevention questions to Office of Environmental Health and Safety at 212.592.2551. 

Operating Fire Extinguishers:

1. Never enter a room that is smoke filled.
2. Before opening doors check to ensure it is not hot to the touch. If hot do not open. If warm open slowly to check room/hallway conditions.
3. Portable fire extinguishers can be used for small fires. However, this is at the employee’s discretion and an immediate readiness to evacuate is essential.
4. Never use water on an electrical or flammable liquid fire. Use a dry chemical or carbon dioxide extinguisher only.
5. When using a dry chemical extinguisher on a flammable liquid fire, stay back a minimum of 10 feet from the fire.
6. Start at the leading edge of the fire and use a side to side sweeping motion to extinguish the fire.


  • Pull the pin
  • Aim at the base of the fire
  • Squeeze the discharge handle
  • Sweep from side to side
Behavioral Concerns or Potential Violence

There is any number of reasons that a person may instill concern in those around them. If someone is in acute crisis, notify 911 and describe the behaviors and actions of that person so the appropriate resources may be dispatched. The following observable behaviors have been indicators of individuals who have engaged in self harm, workplace violence, sexual violence, and criminal violence towards others. It is important when reporting behaviors to relate them in context of the situation and as a total picture of the individual’s actions, not as a single factor.

Potentially violent behaviors by a student, staff member of faculty member may include one or more of the following (this list of behaviors is not comprehensive, nor is it intended as a mechanism for diagnosing violent tendencies):

  • Increased use of alcohol and/or illegal drugs
  • Unexplained increase in absenteeism; vague physical complaints
  • Noticeable decrease in attention to appearance and hygiene
  • Depression / withdrawal
  • Resistance and overreaction to changes in policy and procedures
  • Repeated violations of company policies
  • Increased severe mood swings
  • Noticeably unstable, emotional responses
  • Explosive outbursts of anger or rage without provocation
  • Suicidal; comments about “putting things in order”
  • Behavior which is suspect of paranoia, (“everybody is against me”)
  • Increasingly talks of problems at home or school
  • Escalation of domestic problems into the workplace; talk of severe financial problems
  • Talk of previous incidents of violence
  • Empathy with individuals committing violence
  • Increase in unsolicited comments about firearms, other dangerous weapons and violent crimes
Suspicious Packages

 Two factors to consider if you observe or receive a suspicious package:

  • The size of the package
  • The type of threat contained within the package.

What constitutes a "suspicious package?"

No one characteristic makes a package suspicious; include all known factors when evaluating the suspiciousness of any mail or package. Some typical characteristics Postal Inspectors have detected over the years, which ought to trigger suspicion, include parcels that:

  • Are unexpected or from someone unfamiliar to you (especially a package that is not consistent with your normal activities, i.e. the admissions office receives letters from people that are not known to the office, but there is a standard size, envelope, etc.)
  • Are addressed to someone no longer with your organization or are otherwise outdated.
  • Have misspellings of standard words.
  • Are addressed to a position or title, not a person, i.e. “Dean, or President”
  • Have no return address, or have one that can't be verified as legitimate.
  • Are of unusual weight, given their size, or are lopsided or oddly shaped.
  • Are marked with restrictive endorsements, such as "Personal" or "Confidential."
  • Packages may be unprofessionally wrapped with several combinations of tape used to secure the package and may be endorsed "Fragile-Handle With Care" or "Rush-Do Not Delay".
  • Have protruding wires, strange odors or stains.
  • Show a city or state in the postmark that doesn't match the return address.

Should you receive or come upon a suspicious package, do not touch the package. Do not open; isolate the package and evacuate yourself and others from the area. Do not put the package in water or make any attempt to render it harmless. Use a telephone in another area (not a mobile phone) and report it immediately to 911.

Information for the 911 Operators:

  • Your name
  • Your location
  • Your telephone number
  • A description of the package and why it is suspicious:
  • Explosive devices tend to have oily stains, protruding wires, excessive tape or wrapping, excessive postage, or a very lopsided.
  • Chemical or Biological agents may have powder on the outside or when opened, or may cause symptomatic responses to people in the area
  • Whether the package contains threats or hate based writings that may be criminal violations
  • A description of how the package arrived, if known
Crime in Progress

If you witness a crime in progress, do not attempt to intervene. A situation that might appear safe may escalate beyond your control very quickly. You should take the following actions:

1. Call 911 immediately indicating your location.
2. Be observant and try to make the following mental notes:

  • Type of event taking place
  • Number of individuals present
  • Physical characteristics such as race, gender, height, weight, clothing worn, hair, or other distinguishing characteristics
  • Description of any weapons used
  • Mode of transportation of the individuals
Bomb Threats

Motivation and goals for making a bomb threat usually comes from one of two goals:

  • The Hoax Caller: The most frequent goal is to create an atmosphere of panic and anxiety, the idea being to disrupt normal activities or operations at the location where the explosive device is alleged to be placed or for the entire college.
  • The Credible Caller: The caller has a definite knowledge or believes that an explosive device has been or will be placed, and he or she wants to warn of the threat to minimize personal injuries or property damage. The caller may be the person placing the bomb or someone who has become aware of information they believe to be credible.

Bomb Threats may also be transmitted by letter or email. Regardless of the medium the threat; the receiver of that message should immediately call 911 and provide all the information possible.

The following is the information on the ATF's Call Checklist for phone call bomb threats. If a phone threat is received, do not disconnect the call. Keep the caller on the line as long as possible and try to ascertain as much of the following information. If it is possible to transfer the call to 911, do so.

You should note:
1. The time and date you received the call.
2. The telephone number at which the call was received.
3. The caller's exact wording of the threat?

Questions to Ask the Caller:
1. When is the bomb going to explode?
2. Where is it right now?
3. What does it look like?
4. What kind of bomb is it?
5. What will cause it to explode?
6. Did you place the bomb?
7. Why?
8. What is your address?
9. What is your name?

Description of the Caller's Voice
calm; nasal; angry; stutter
raspy; lisp; excited; slow
rapid; soft; ragged; loud
laughing; crying; clearing throat; normal
disguised; deep breathing; distinct; accent
cracking; slurred; whispered; female
male; other; familiar*

*If familiar, who did the caller sound like?

Background Sounds
street noises; factory machinery; aircraft noise
animal noises; public address system; music;
clear static; house noises;
television; office typewriters; other language heard

Active Shooter

Definition of an Active Shooter
An Active Shooter is an individual who is engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearms(s) and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.
Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. Typically, the immediate deployment of law enforcement is required to stop the shooting and mitigate harm to victims.

Because active shooter situations are often over within 10 to 15 minutes, before law enforcement arrives on the scene, individuals must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with an active shooter situation.

If you are alerted to an Active Shooter on Campus, but not in the building that you are in, SHELTER IN PLACE. Do not leave until notified that it is safe to do so by campus authorities. Evacuating may place you in the range of the shooter, especially if they are moving. If you are not in a building, seek cover in the closest one to you that is not being affected by the incident.

Good preparatory practices for coping with an active shooter situation:

  • Be aware of your environment and any possible dangers
  • Take note of the two nearest exits in any facility you visit


Information to provide to law enforcement or 911 operators:

  • Your location
  • Location of the active shooter
  • Number of shooters, if more than one
  • Physical description of shooter/s
  • Number and type of weapons held by the shooter/s
  • Number of potential victims at the location
  • Whether you saw them use explosive devices or plant any explosive devices

Quickly determine the most reasonable way to protect your own life. Remember that others are likely to follow the lead of faculty and staff during an active shooter situation.

  • If you are in a room or office, stay there and secure the door
  • If you are in a hallway, get into a room and secure the door
  • If the door does not lock, barricade the door using furniture

1. Evacuate

  • If there is an accessible escape path, attempt to evacuate the premises. Be sure to:
  • Have an escape route and plan in mind
  • Leave your belongings behind
  • Help others escape, if possible
  • Prevent individuals from entering an area where the active shooter may be
  • Keep your hands visible
  • Follow the instructions of any police officers
  • Do not attempt to move wounded people
  • Call 911 when you are safe

2. Hide out

If evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide where the active shooter is less likely to find you.

  • Your hiding place should:
  • Be out of the active shooter’s view
  • Provide protection if shots are fired in your direction (i.e., an office with a closed and locked door)
  • Not trap you or restrict your options for movement

To prevent an active shooter from entering your hiding place:

  • Lock the door
  • Blockade the door with heavy furniture If the active shooter is nearby:
  • Silence your cell phone
  • Turn off any source of noise (i.e., radios, televisions)
  • Hide behind large items (i.e., cabinets, desks)
  • Remain quiet

If evacuation and hiding out are not possible:

  • Remain calm
  • Dial 911, if possible, to alert police to the active shooter’s location. If you cannot speak, leave the line open and allow the dispatcher to listen

3. Take action against the active shooter
As a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the active shooter by:

  • Committing to your actions
  • Throwing items and improvising weapons
  • Acting as aggressively as possible against him/her
  • Yelling



  • Law enforcement’s purpose is to stop the active shooter as soon as possible. Officers will proceed directly to the area in which the last shots were heard.
  • Officers usually arrive in teams of two to four
  • Officers may wear regular patrol uniforms or external bulletproof vests, Kevlar helmets, and other tactical equipment
  • Officers may be armed with rifles, shotguns and/or handguns
  • Officers may use pepper spray or tear gas to control the situation
  • Officers may shout commands, and may push individuals to the ground for their safety

How to react when law enforcement arrives:

  • Remain calm, and follow the officers’ instructions
  • Put down any items in your hands (i.e., bags, jackets)
  • Immediately raise hands and spread fingers
  • Keep hands visible at all times
  • Avoid making quick movements toward officers such as attempting to hold on to them for safety
  • Avoid pointing, screaming and/or yelling
  • Do not stop to ask officers for help or direction when evacuating, just proceed in the direction from which officers are entering the premises

The first officers to arrive to the scene will not stop to help injured persons. Expect rescue teams comprised of additional officers and emergency medical personnel to follow the initial officers. These rescue teams will treat and remove any injured persons. They may also call upon able-bodied individuals to assist in removing the wounded from the premises. Once you have reached a safe location or an assembly point, you will likely be held in that area by law enforcement until the situation is under control, and all witnesses have been identified and questioned. Do not leave the safe location or assembly point until law enforcement authorities have instructed you to do so.

Source: DHS Pamphlet, “Active Shooter, How to Respond,” October 2008.

School of Visual Arts | 209 East 23 Street, NY, NY 10010-3994 | Tel: 212.592.2000 | Fax: 212.725.3587