Emergency and Active Shooter Preparedness

On Friday, October 9, a lone gunman killed one person and injured three others at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ. Eight days earlier, nine people were killed by a lone gunman at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. I know your thoughts and sympathies are with the families of the victims, as are mine.

In response to questions about these recent campus shootings, I felt it was necessary to inform you about measures we have taken here at UW-Madison to ensure that we are as prepared as possible for what we hope will never happen here.

  • We have a state-of-the-art alert system, called WiscAlerts, that can send campus-wide text and email emergency alerts to you.
    All residence hall exterior doors are safeguarded by an electronic locking system that allows 24-hour monitoring of door locks to make sure doors are locked at the proper times. Living areas inside residence halls are locked 24/7. Security cameras are located throughout the first floor and building entrance areas of all campus residence halls. Read more about residence hall security here.
  • The UW-Madison Police Department has highly-trained officers who are capable of rapid response.
  • The City of Madison Police Department is also highly trained to respond quickly to active shooter incidents, as are all law-enforcement agencies throughout our county.
  • Each year, we conduct emergency response drills for a variety of emergencies that could happen on our campus–including active shooter scenarios. We are continually assessing and upgrading our preparedness measures.


  1. Take ten minutes TODAY to inform yourself by watching two videos, one created by the UW-Madison Police Department and the other by the FBI. Both videos outline the steps to take in an active shooter scenario. Having thought even once about what you would do in an emergency may be helpful in an actual situation.  A warning: both videos include a simulation of an active shooting event, and could trigger post-traumatic stress reactions in those who have suffered trauma in the past. If you choose not to watch the videos, you may want to seek information from others, as appropriate, about the actions that are considered wisest.
  2. Sign up NOW for WiscAlert text alerts. You’re already receiving alerts via email, but you must sign up to receive alerts via text message. Please sign up here.
  3. Prevention is critical–therefore if you see something or hear something, tell us. UW-Madison has an active Threat Team, which assess and coordinates a response to threat situations at UW-Madison.  The team develops strategies to intervene, interrupt, and mitigate threats posed by students, faculty, staff, visitors, and others unaffiliated with the campus. If you know of or hear about a potential threatening situation on campus–a person who makes written or verbal threats, shows an unusual fascination with weapons, obsession or stalking, or any other actions that seem odd or out of place–contact the UW-Madison Police Department at (608) 264-2677. For immediate threats, dial 911.

I wish it wasn’t necessary to send you such a message, but I know that preparation and forethought is crucial–and I want you to know what UW-Madison has done and is doing to keep you safe. In the days and weeks ahead, you’ll hear more from us about resources, training, and prevention strategies to ensure a safe campus for our students, faculty, staff, and guests.

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