Bay Area Colleges hold disaster drills


Allowing officers to carry guns, an ongoing controversy at City College, especially in light of the Virginia Tech and Columbine school shootings. It is surprising how far behind City College is when it comes to emergency preparedness. They're just getting their act together now.

More than a 100 staff members of City College of San Francisco huddled together at this table top emergency drill. They went through scenarios which included a big earthquake and a campus shooting where hostages are taken.

Guiding these drills is the college's new emergency response plan. It replaces an antiquated one which college officials admit had not been updated in the past decade or more. Vice Chancellor Peter Goldstein explains why.

"We did have an emergency plan before, but it didn't have enough attention over the years and the college is a very busy institution with many functions and responsibilities," said Goldstein.

Sunny Clark was in charge of drafting the new plan.

"We get so busy doing our primary job of teaching and running the college that I think we just felt that it was secondary. It was important, but it wasn't our primary responsibility," said Clark.

She believes this is the first drill ever to be held here.

Incredibly, there are still no emergency supplies on campus and the college won't get its first mass emergency notification system to contact students and faculty, until next month.

ABC7 checked with four other Bay Area community college districts, San Mateo, Foothill-De Anza College, Peralta Community College and College of Marin. All say their emergency plans have been constantly updated over the years, have mass notification systems, hold periodic drills, and there are emergency supplies. In fact, all but College of Marin have automated electronic defibrillators (AEDs) around their campuses.

"The campus for years, City College hasn't been properly prepared," said Carl Koehler, the former campus police chief. He says he tried unsuccessfully, to convince the college to create a comprehensive emergency plan.

"It was always easy to say, 'We'll do it later or we'll do it tomorrow, or yeah when we get extra money, we'll do it then,' but that never came to pass," said Koehler.

Koehler, the former City College police chief, quit his job last year because the college refused to allow his officers to carry guns. He finds it ironic that one of the scenerios focused on a gunman who killed his wife in one of the buildings here and was holding hostages. And because campus officers don't carry guns, had to wait for San Francisco Police to arrive, to respond. By the way, three of the four campuses we mentioned in this story have officers that carry guns. Only San Mateo City College does not.

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