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Campus Emergency Procedures

The Department of Public Safety offers the Saint Louis University community resources to respond to emergency situations, which may occur on or near our campus.

Such emergencies can occur at any time and without warning, but their effects can be minimized and recovery can be improved if the proper emergency procedures are established and followed. The University is committed to the safety and security of all members of the SLU community. In times of emergency, the University will provide an appropriate campus-wide response to assure safety and minimize losses.

Emergency preparedness is also an individual responsibility. This page will serve as a reference for efficient action during emergencies. All faculty, staff and students should take time to read and become familiar with the contents of this page before an emergency occurs. This page is intended as a practical outline of what to do in a variety of emergencies. SLU's Department of Public Safety can provide further information on emergency response. Please contact the emergency preparedness coordinator at 314-977-7129 or for more information. 

Before an Emergency Occurs...

This is what you should know:

  • The established emergency procedures for your building and your work area.
  • How to register for SLU Emergency Text Alerts.
  • The hazards of any materials or equipment and the precautions that accompany them in your building and work area.
  • Two means of egress from your building.
  • The locations of fire alarm pull stations.
  • The locations of portable fire extinguishers and how to use them
  • The locations of the nearest first aid kit and AED (if applicable).

Expected outcome:

  • You will know what to do in case of an emergency.
  • You will receive an electronic warning of an impending emergency.
  • You will know how to protect yourself and your co-workers.
  • You will know how to exit your building should an evacuation be required.
  • You will be able to warn others of the presence of a fire.
  • You will be able to extinguish small fires and prevent large-scale damage.
  • You will be able to obtain first aid supplies and equipment quickly.

Knowing what to do before an emergency happens can mean the difference between life and death or serious injury.

Reporting an Emergency

Call DPS at 314-977-3000. Call 911 for any situation that requires an immediate police, fire or medical response.

When reporting an emergency, give the following information, as calmly and precisely as possible:

  • Your full name and the telephone number from which you are calling.
  • The nature and location of the emergency.
  • Your location: the address or building, the room number or floor, area or department.
  • What you know of the number of injured people and the extent of their injuries.
  • Do not hang up until the person answering the call ends the conversation. Responders may need more information. If it is safe, designate someone to meet emergency personnel at the approach to the building.

Stay Calm

Do your best to stay calm, assess the situation and protect yourself.

  • If possible, locate at least two emergency exits in your area.
  • Silence your cell phone if necessary.
  • Use the telephone only for emergency purposes.
Active Shooter/Violent Intruder

Active Threats

An “active threat” is any incident that creates an immediate threat or presents an imminent danger to the campus community. This may include people who want to harm campus community members that carry out their acts using firearms (active shooters) or other types of weapons or instruments. Active threats may happen anywhere at any time, but these situations are, in particular, a serious concern for our nation’s university and college campuses.

How DPS and Law Enforcement Respond

DPS and law enforcement response tactics include addressing the threat immediately and taking any actions necessary to stop the threat as quickly as possible. The safety of all people involved in an active threat incident is of paramount importance and responding officers may forgo assistance to injured parties for the express purpose of meeting and stopping the threat, thereby reducing the overall number of casualties.

For any emergency on campus, DPS officers will respond immediately and will most likely be assisted by members of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. Emergency medical services will be dispatched immediately upon report or confirmation of injuries. The Campus Incident Management Team will convene to manage the impact of the event on the campus community and to lend support and resources to the tactical response agencies.

How We Inform Campus

When adequate and credible information is available, DPS will issue a SLU emergency alert to inform the campus community of the threat and provide as much information as possible. Often, the amount of information we have is extremely limited upon the first report of an emergency, so expect to receive abbreviated action steps to take for your safety. If you receive a message, share that information with others in your general area. Campus authorities update those messages and provide more information as it becomes available and until the emergency is resolved.

SLU emergency alerts are sent via text message, email, digital signage and social media.

Sign Up for Emergency Notifications

How to Protect Yourself

No two active threat situations unfold the same way, so individuals need to assess their situation and be prepared to make decisions in a matter of seconds. The techniques outlined in our A.L.I.C.E. program provide guidance with those decisions and can help you feel more comfortable leading evacuation or sheltering efforts should you find yourself in an emergency. To sign up for the A.L.I.C.E. program, email DPS at

The most important thing you can do is prepare before an emergency strikes. When entering campus buildings, you should familiarize yourself with exits and routes of escape. Make a conscious personal decision regarding what your response would be in an emergency. As the emergency unfolds, remain calm. Resist the natural panic response and remember your mental rehearsal. Follow the “Run, Hide, Fight” directions, call 911 as soon as it is safe to do so, and render first aid to any injured people as long as you feel comfortable and can do so without risk to your safety. If you are in a secure location, wait for police to come to you.

Do not approach DPS or police officers as they attempt to locate and eliminate the threat. Officers are trained to seek out and respond to the threat. They may not able to assist with the evacuation or provide medical assistance to the injured. Once the threat has been eliminated, the officers will return immediately to organizing the evacuation of the facility and providing emergency medical assistance.

How to Prevent an Active Threat

Report suspicious activity right away to DPS at 314-977-3000. If something does not feel right, it probably is not. Public safety officers are happy to assist, even when it turns out to be nothing.

Early detection of individuals with severe stress or depression or who demonstrate odd or threatening behavior may be the best method for reducing the likelihood of active threat events. Saint Louis University has exceptional resources to assist people through the Employee Assistance Program (1-800-859-9319) or the University Counseling Center (314-977-8255). Report any concerns to the appropriate person, which may include a supervisor, resident adviser, teaching assistant, professor, counselor or public safety.

Request a Presentation

DPS officers are available to speak to groups about the prevention and mitigation of active threat events. To schedule a meeting with your group and an officer, call 314-977-2376 or email

Bomb Threat

What to do if you receive a bomb threat:

  • Remain calm.
  • Keep the caller on the line as long as possible.
  • Listen carefully. Note the time of the call and telephone number displayed if you have caller ID.
  • Ask the caller the following questions:
    Where is the bomb?
    When will it explode?
    What does the bomb look like?
    What kind of bomb is it?
    What will cause it to explode?
    Did you place the bomb?
    What is your name?
    Are you an employee?
    Where are you calling from?
  • Write down any pertinent information such as background noises, gender of caller, and voice pitches and patterns.
  • Call 314-977-3000 immediately.
  • Please download the Bomb Threat Checklist and keep it by your work phone.

Safety During an Earthquake

If you feel the ground shake, take the following precautions immediately:

  • Duck - When the shaking first starts, duck or drop to the floor.
  • Cover – Take cover under a sturdy desk, table or other furniture. If there is nothing available to take cover under, crouch against an interior wall and protect your head and neck with your arms. Stay away from windows, hanging objects, mirrors or anything that might fall over.
  • Hold - If seeking cover under a piece of furniture, hold on to it and be prepared to move with it during the quake.

Be prepared for aftershocks. Do not attempt to exit the building during active shaking.

Use these tips if you find yourself in any of the following places when an earthquake strikes:

  • High-rise building – Stay near an interior wall. Do not use the elevators.
  • Outdoors – Remain outdoors. Move to a clear area, away from trees, signs, buildings, or downed electrical wires and poles.
  • Walking along the street – Duck into a doorway to protect yourself from falling bricks, glass, plaster and other debris.
  • In your car – Pull over to the side of the road and stop. Avoid overpasses, power lines and other hazards. Stay inside the vehicle until the shaking is over. 
  • In a mall or other public place – Do not rush for the exits. Do not panic. Move away from anything that might fall.
  • In the kitchen—Move away from the refrigerator, stove and overhead cabinets.
  • In a stadium or theater – Stay in your seat and protect your head with your arms. Do not try and leave until the shaking is over.

Remember: If you are outside, remain outside. If you are inside, remain inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to exit. Do not attempt to re-enter a building until it has been determined safe to do so by the appropriate authorities.

Elevator Failure

If you become trapped in an elevator on campus:

  • Remain calm
  • Use the emergency elevator phone or alarm button to call for help.
  • Do not attempt to pry open the doors
  • Do not attempt to use the overhead hatch.
  • Emergency assistance will be directed to your location

If you believe someone is trapped in an elevator:

  • Contact the Department of Public Safety at 314-977-3000.
  • Be prepared to tell the dispatcher on what floor you believe the elevator has stopped.
  • Talk to those inside of the elevator by yelling through the door.
  • Remind those who are trapped to remain calm and assure them assistance is on the way.
Evacuation/Assisting Persons with Functional Needs/Areas of Refuge

A person may be required to evacuate a building during a gas leak, fire or chemical spill. In some cases, they may need to evacuate after an incident that causes their building to be unsafe such as after an earthquake or tornado. 

Evacuation Procedures for Building Occupants

Safely stop your work.

  • Shut down equipment that could become unstable or present a hazard.
  • If safe to do so, gather your personal belongings such as glasses, prescription medication, keys, purse, etc.

Leave the building through the nearest door with an exit sign.

  • Do not use elevators.
  • Go to the nearest safe stairway.
  • Help those who need special assistance.
  • Touch closed doors before opening.  If the surface is hot, do not open.  Use another exit route.
  • Close, but do not lock, all doors as you leave.

Report to your designated assembly area location.

  • Stay in your designated outdoor assembly area for a headcount.
  • Report any missing individuals and their last-known locations to emergency responders.
  • Notify emergency responders about sensitive research, operating equipment, animals left in buildings, etc.
  • If the evacuation site does not appear to be safe, get to a safe place as soon as possible.

Wait for instructions from emergency responders.

  • Remain outside at your designated assembly area.
  • Do not re-enter the building until authorized to do so by an appropriate authority. (DPS, police, fire, etc.)

Learn about your emergency exit routes now, before the emergency occurs.

  • Check the emergency evacuation plan posted in your building.
  • Find the outside assembly for your building.
  • Review this plan and ask your building emergency coordinator for help if you still have questions or need clarification.

Assisting Persons with Functional Needs During an Evacuation

Alerting visually impaired persons:

  • Announce the type of emergency.
  • Offer your arm for guidance.
  • Tell the person where you are going and the obstacles you encounter.
  • When you reach safety, ask if further help is needed.

Alerting people with hearing limitations:

  • Turn lights on/off to gain the person's attention.
  • Indicate directions with gestures.
  • Write a note with evacuation directions.

 Evacuating people using crutches, canes or walkers:

  • Evacuate these individuals as injured persons.
  • Assist and accompany them to an evacuation site, if possible.
  • Use a sturdy chair (or one with wheels) to move the person.
  • Help carry the individual to safety.

 Evacuating wheelchair users:

  • Non-ambulatory persons’ needs and preferences vary.
  • Individuals at ground floor locations may exit without help.
  • Check for the availability of special evacuation chairs.
  • Others have minimal ability to move; lifting may be dangerous.
  • Some non-ambulatory persons have respiratory complications. Remove them from smoke and vapors immediately.
  • Wheelchair users with electrical respirators get priority assistance.
  • Immediately advise first responders of special evacuation cases.

Deciding whether to shelter-in-place or evacuate to safety (i.e., get away from a threat or hazard) is among the most important decisions that must be made during any emergency. Employees should understand and plan for both scenarios. It is important that all employees determine in advance how they will perform these tasks when an emergency occurs.

Areas of Refuge

If there is a major emergency that requires a building evacuation, people with functional needs may not be able to evacuate without help. There are designated areas of refuge in each building that provide protection where they may go. In any instance when an area of refuge has not been identified, the stairwell will serve as it. ​

Elevators should not be used during an emergency, so people who cannot travel down the stairs should move to the outside area of the stairwell identified as an area of refuge.

Individuals should wait in the designated area of refuge outside the stairwell, away from the path of traffic. Emergency responders may ascend to the areas of refuge to assist with evacuation down the stairs if the situation warrants.


Call 911. If safe to do so, call Campus Safety at 314-977-3000.

  • Do not assume that it is a false alarm or drill.
  • Leave the work area immediately. Follow the posted exit pathway map (either primary or secondary routes).
  • Close doors as you exit your work area.
  • Assist ​others down the stairs. (Elevators will be shut down during alarms.)
  • Meet your group at a rally point, when designated.
  • Account for all persons present; determine persons not present.
  • Report any persons not accounted for to DPS.

Flooding can happen at any time. Serious water damage can occur from many sources:  burst pipes, fire sprinkler activation, clogged drains, broken skylights and windows, construction projects, major rainstorms, water main breaks, or loss of power to sump pumps.

In the case of flooding, notify DPS immediately and give the following information:

  • Your name
  • Telephone number
  • Location of the leak (building, floor, room number, etc.)
  • Severity of the leak
  • Indicate whether any people or equipment are involved or are in imminent danger.

Evacuate the area. Do not attempt to shut down or save electronic equipment, as you can be electrocuted. However, you may be asked by facilities staff to assist in the location of sensitive equipment and how to shut it down.

If hazardous laboratory materials are compromised or threatened, the local hazmat team should be involved in the response. Facilities may also need to shut off the electricity in water-exposed areas, as electricity flows easily through water and poses a lethal risk. In some cases, trained laboratory personnel may need to be called in to shut off sensitive laboratory instruments. Some equipment may have potentially hidden high voltage lines that power various systems. Trained laboratory staff may know where those voltage lines are, while first responders may overlook them.

Gas Odor

If you ever smell natural gas, we want you to know exactly what to do:

  • Immediately leave the building and proceed to a safe location where no smell of gas can be detected.
  • Until you reach a safe distance, avoid smoking and using any electronics.  Do not turn on or off any lights. Stay away from the area and keep others away.
  • Once at a safe location, immediately call DPS at 314-977-3000.
Hazmat Incident

If chemical exposure occurs:

  • If toxic chemicals come into contact with your skin, immediately and continuously flush the affected area with clear water.
  • Remove contaminated clothing.
  • Call DPS at 314-977-3000.
  • Move to a safe area.

If a chemical spill occurs:

  • Many materials used in the workplace present a health hazard to humans.
  • Inappropriate handling of hazardous materials may result in exposure to personnel and the environment. The actual degree of protection required will depend upon the agent, concentration and risk of exposure to it from routine procedures and accidents.
  • For spills, releases or incidents requiring special training, procedures or personal protective equipment that are beyond the abilities of present personnel, take the following steps:
    • Immediately notify affected personnel and evacuate the spill area. Pull the building fire evacuation alarm if evacuation is required.
    • Call 314-977-3000 to report the incident to the DPS Dispatch Center. Key persons on-site should evacuate the affected area at once and seal it off to prevent further contamination of others until the arrival of emergency personnel.
    • Anyone who is contaminated by the spill should avoid contact with others as much as possible and remain in the vicinity.
    • Washing off contamination and any required first aid should be started immediately.
    • No effort to contain or clean up spills and/or releases should be made unless you are “Authorized and Qualified” to perform such work. SLU's Environmental Health and Safety Department offers information on maintaining a safe work environment. 
    • If an evacuation alarm sounds, follow established building evacuation procedures.
    • Do not re-enter the area until directed by emergency personnel.
Medical Emergencies (AED Locations)

In a medical emergency:

Severe Weather and Tornadoes

Severe Weather and Tornadoes

Tornado alerts from the National Weather Service are issued by counties. The University will only issue an alert for a tornado warning if the University community is included in the warning area.

Tornado/Severe Thunderstorm Watch

A tornado or severe thunderstorm watch means severe weather is possibly approaching. Remain alert for approaching storms and be prepared to seek shelter if necessary.

Tornado/Severe Thunderstorm Warning

  • Tornado or Severe Thunderstorm Warning means threatening conditions are imminent or have been indicated by Doppler radar or reported by storm spotters. The SLU emergency alert system is connected to the NWS and an alert will be issued automatically if a tornado warning is issued for any segment of the city that includes our main campus property.
  • Monitor local TV stations, radio stations, NOAA weather radio, weather-related websites, etc., for severe weather updates.
  • Be prepared to take shelter on the lowest level of your building or residence hall if a tornado warning is issued.
  • Stay away from windows and exterior doors.
  • Move to an interior hallway for shelter.

What it means to “Shelter-in-Place”
If an incident occurs and the buildings or areas around you become unstable, or if the air outdoors becomes dangerous due to toxic or irritating substances, it is usually safer to stay indoors. Therefore, to “shelter-in-place” means to make a shelter of the building that you are in, and with a few adjustments, this location can be made even safer and more comfortable until it is safe to go outside.

Basic “Shelter-in-Place” Guidance
If an incident occurs and the building you are in is not damaged, stay inside in an interior room until you are told it is safe to come out. If your building is damaged, gather your personal belongings if it is safe to do so (purse, wallet, SLU card, etc.) and follow the evacuation procedures for your building (close your door, proceed to the nearest exit, and use the stairs instead of the elevators). Once you have evacuated, seek shelter at the nearest university building quickly. Follow the directions of emergency personnel on the scene.

How You Will Know to “Shelter-in-Place”
A shelter-in-place notification may come from several sources, including DPS, Housing and Residence staff members, other University employees, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, or other authorities utilizing the University’s emergency communications tools.

How to “Shelter-in-Place”
No matter where you are, the basic steps of shelter-in-place will generally remain the same. Should the need ever arise, please follow these steps, unless otherwise instructed by local emergency personnel:

  1. If you are inside, stay where you are. Collect any emergency shelter-in-place supplies and a telephone/cell phone to be used in case of emergency. If you are outdoors, proceed into the closest building quickly or follow instructions from emergency personnel on the scene.
  2. Locate a room to shelter inside. It should be an interior room, above ground level, without windows or with the least number of windows. If there is a large group of people inside a particular building, several rooms may be necessary.
  3. Shut and lock all windows (tighter seal) and close exterior doors.
  4. Turn off air conditioners, heaters, and fans.
  5. Close vents to ventilation systems as you are able. University staff will turn off the ventilation as quickly as possible.
  6. Turn on a radio, TV, check the SLU website and wait for further instructions.
  7. Make yourself comfortable.
Utility Outage

In case of a utility outage:

  • Contact the Department of Public Safety at 314-­977-­3000 to report a power outage.
  • Use only a flashlight for emergency lighting. Never use candles.
  • Turn off electrical equipment, computers and appliances, and anything you were using when the power went out.
  • Avoid opening refrigerators and freezers.
Winter Weather

For information about school closings or late starts due to snow or ice, call the Saint Louis University Snow Line at 314­-977-­SNOW or 314-­977-­7669. Information will also be shared with local news stations.

Closings will also be announced through SLU’s emergency notification system.