Emergency Response Guide
Risk and Emergency Management, in coordination with the UTSA Police Department as well as several other departments and teams, has compiled the information below to serve as a quick reference guide for faculty, staff, students and guests in the event of an emergency on campus.
Every employee should become familiar with this guide, and new employees should be trained to follow these procedures and the building evacuation plan for their respective area. In instances where an evacuation plan differs from these instructions, the evacuation plan for the building will supersede this guide.
- UTSA Police/Fire/Rescue/Hazmat: (210) 458-4911 (from UTSA phone: 911)
- UTSA Police Non-Emergency: (210) 458-4242
- Risk & Emergency Management: (210) 458-5250 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Counseling and Health Services
- For Students
- Wellbeing Services: (210) 458-4140
- Wellness 360: (210) 458-4142
- For Employees
- Employee Assistance Program: (888) 993-7650
Other Contact Numbers
- Tech Cafe: (210) 458-5555
- Rowdy Watch Safety Escorts: (210) 458-4242
To learn more about safety resources and services available to students, faculty and staff, visit the Campus Safety Resources webpage.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Awareness is your best defense. Know what is happening around you. Be especially careful and alert if you are alone. Watch where you are going and what is going on around you. Look for potential problems and be prepared to react to them. Avoid going to secluded areas.
Trust Your Instincts
If it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. Whether alone or in a group, if you think something is wrong, remove yourself from the situation. Don't be afraid to call for help.
When Walking, Plan the Safest and Most Direct Route
Use well-lit, busy streets, sidewalks and pathways. Walk with friends or a group, especially at night. Always let someone you trust know where you will be going, how you will be getting there and when you plan to return. Avoid areas you are not familiar with, alleys, deserted streets, and secluded and wooded areas.
Walk as if you know where you are going. Stand tall. Walk in a confident manner, and hold your head up. Keep your eyes off your mobile device while you are walking.
If You Are Being Followed or Feel Threatened, Be Proactive
Cross the street, change direction and go to a safe, busy and well-lit area where you can ask for help or call the police. If a car is following you, turn around and walk in the opposite direction if possible. Write down the license plate number and a description of the car and occupants.
Report Suspicious Activity
Criminals do not want to be seen or heard. They rarely commit crime in front of police officers. We rely on the community to report suspicious activity. We would much rather respond to you and not be needed than not be called when a crime could have been prevented or stopped. Trust your instincts; if something does not feel right, it probably isn't.
Program the UTSA Police Number into Your Phone
On UTSA campuses, our police department can respond to emergencies much faster than local law enforcement. Call (210) 458-4911 for emergencies and (210) 458-4242 for police assistance with non-emergencies.
Gunfire, Shooter, Hostage or Other Active Threat
During an act of violence (e.g. robbery, hostage situation, workplace violence, active shooter): AVOID, DENY, DEFEND.
AVOID starts with your state of mind.
- Pay attention to your surroundings.
- Have an exit plan.
- Move away from the source of the threat as quickly as possible.
- The more distance and barriers between you and the threat, the better.
DENY when getting away is difficult or impossible.
- Keep distance between you and the source.
- Create barriers to prevent or slow down a threat from getting to you.
- Turn the lights off.
- Remain out of sight and quiet by hiding behind large objects and silence your phone.
DEFEND because you have the right to protect yourself.
- If you cannot AVOID or DENY, be prepared to defend yourself.
- Be aggressive and committed to your actions.
- Do not fight fairly. THIS IS ABOUT SURVIVAL.
COMPLY with first responders.
When and if it is safe to do so, call UTSA Police Department at (210) 458-4911 (from UTSA phones: 911). Tell the dispatcher:
- Location of active shooter(s).
- Number of shooters.
- Physical description of shooters.
- Number and type of weapons shooters have.
- Number of potential victims within the location.
When law enforcement arrives:
- Remain calm and follow instructions.
- Drop items in your hands.
- Raise your hands and keep them visible at all times.
- Do not yell, scream or point.
- Keep calm and provide details to law enforcement when requested.
When you suspect menacing behavior:
- Stay calm and unhurried in your response to the person. Alert others to the situation.
- Be empathetic and show your concern by active listening.
- Try to sit down with the person, as sitting is a less aggressive posture than standing or moving around.
- Be helpful. Schedule an appointment for a later time, take notes.
- Provide positive feedback such as, “We can get this straightened out,” or “I'm glad you're telling me how you feel about this.”
- Stay out of arm's reach.
- Limit eye contact. Keep within social norms.
- Do not argue, yell or joke. Try to be genuine.
- Do not touch the person. Respect the person and their space.
- Don't move quickly, speak too fast or too loudly.
If the individual's level of agitation increases, attempt the following:
- Leave the scene.
- Notify the UTSA Police Department at (210) 458-4911 or (from UTSA phones: 911).
- Alert coworkers using an agreed-upon code word to indicate trouble.
- Do not allow menacing behavior to go unreported.
Persons Requiring Evacuation Assistance
Assisting Blind/Visually Impaired
- Clearly announce the type of emergency.
- Offer your arm for guidance.
- Tell the person where you are going, and alert him/her to obstacles along the way.
Assisting the Deaf/Hearing Impaired
- Turn lights on and off to gain the person's attention.
- Indicate directions with gestures or written note.
To assist those requiring evacuation assistance, engage in the following:
- Call UTSAPD at (210) 458-4911 if someone is immobile and needs additional assistance evacuating.
- Do not use elevators.
- Seek volunteers to assist students/personnel with physical disabilities to the nearest enclosed stairway or designated areas for rescue assistance.
- One individual should remain with the person(s) if it can be done without unreasonable personal risk. If the hazard becomes life-threatening (i.e., fire is getting close or the smoke becomes a choking hazard) move the individual into a room and close the door. Vacate the building.
- Others should advise emergency personnel of the location so that the evacuation can be completed.
If you are unable to evacuate a building safely because of your inability to use an elevator and you do not have an evacuation plan, look for a university employee (staff, faculty, floor captain with yellow/orange vest) and make your need for assistance known. If a university employee is unable or unavailable to assist, please secure yourself in an enclosed exit stairwell, note the location of the stairwell (i.e. S-1, S-2, etc.), call UTSA Police immediately with your location, and if other people are present when the emergency occurs, ask someone to send help for you.
Fire or Explosion
In the event of a fire:
- Pull the nearest fire alarm and leave via the preplanned evacuation route if safe to do so.
- Dial (210) 458-4911 or 911 (from UTSA phones) and give your name and location of the fire. (If necessary, dial 911 from another building.)
When a fire alarm sounds, occupants should:
- Proceed immediately to an exit according the posted evacuation plan and move a safe distance away from the building. If the primary exit is blocked, choose the best alternate route. If time permits, close doors and windows behind you.
- Do not use an elevator.
If there is smoke in the area, remain close to the floor.
- Before passing through any door, feel the metal doorknob. If it is hot, do not open the door. Before opening a door, brace yourself against it slightly; if heat or heavy smoke are present, close the door and stay in the room.
- If you cannot leave the room:
- Open the windows.
- Seal the cracks around doors with clothing or other material, soaked with water if possible.
- Hang an object (bedsheet, jacket, shirt, etc.) out the window to gain attention.
- Shout for help.
- If possible, call (210) 458-4911 or 911 (from UTSA phones) and report that you are trapped.
- If all exits are found to be blocked, go to a room as far as possible from the fire, close the door, and the follow the above procedures.
As with any emergency, the best advice is to be prepared by familiarizing yourself with evacuation route plans.
- Immediately evacuate the building, using your pre-planned route if possible.
- Call the UTSA Police Department at (210) 458-4911 or 911 (from UTSA phones). Inform them of the situation with as much information as is available. If it is safe to do so, stay on the phone with the police dispatcher.
- Placards are posted outside all rooms containing hazardous materials or equipment.
- Notify the UTSA Police Department at (210) 458-4911.
- Do not touch, taste or smell the material.
- Isolate the area.
- Notify people in the neighboring offices and classrooms.
- Hazardous material spills can result in fire, explosion, release of toxic fumes, and contamination of water, among other effects. In the event of a spill of possibly hazardous materials, leave the area via the preplanned evacuation route.
Detailed safety procedures are in place in all campus laboratories where dangerous materials are used and stored. If you encounter a chemical spill and there are not any trained individuals are in the area:
- Turn off space heaters and extinguish open flames in the area if it is safe to do so.
- If there are vapors or noxious fumes, evacuate the affected area or building and do not re-enter the area until authorized emergency personnel give the “all clear signal”.
- Radioactive materials are utilized in some campus laboratories. Those that might be encountered are considered low-level sources of radiation and pose minimal threat when properly stored and handled.
- If you believe that you or others have come into contact with radioactivity on your skin, clothes or shoes, remain in the area at a safe distance until checked and cleared of radioactive contamination by safety office personnel.
Medical Emergency/Ambulance Guidelines
- Immediately notify the UTSA Police Department at (210) 458-4911.
- Do not move a seriously injured person unless they are in a life-threatening situation.
- Render first-aid or CPR only if you have been trained.
- Do not leave the injured person except to summon help.
- When reporting the medical emergency, provide the following information:
- Type of emergency.
- Location of the victim.
- Condition of the victim.
- Any dangerous conditions.
- Comfort the victim until emergency medical services arrive.
- Have someone stand outside the building to flag down the ambulance when it reaches the vicinity.
- If you are exposed to another person's body fluids, wash the exposed area and contact a health care professional.
- It takes only two feet of rushing water to carry away most vehicles. This includes pickups and SUVs.
- If flooding occurs, get to higher ground. Get out of areas subject to flooding.
- Avoid areas already flooded, especially if the water is flowing fast. Do not attempt to cross flowing streams. Turn around, don't drown!
- Road beds may be washed out under flood waters. Never drive through flooded roadways.
- Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
Weather Closure Information
Information regarding weather closures at UTSA is available via a variety of resources:
- UTSA Today
- The university's official social channels on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
- Information will be sent via UTSA Alerts through text, voice or email. Always ensure your personal contact information on MyUTSA Account is up to date.
- Local media: News of university closings are broadcast via radio and television stations throughout the region.
Tornado or Severe Thunderstorms
A tornado or severe thunderstorm watch means conditions are favorable for development. Continue normal activities but monitor local weather conditions. Use good, independent judgment at all times.
If the approaching severe weather is deemed to pose an immediate threat to the area, the watch may be elevated to a severe thunderstorm or tornado warning. You should take the following steps:
- Notify the building occupants of the weather warning.
- If it is a thunderstorm warning, you should stay indoors and away from windows until the storm passes. Report injuries to (210) 458-4911. When calling, provide the following information:
- Building name, room number and/or location.
- Type of emergency.
- Condition of victim(s).
- Any dangerous conditions.
- If it is a tornado warning, you should seek shelter in a severe weather shelter immediately.
- If you are in a vehicle, get out and seek shelter in a sturdy building. If a building is not available, a depression such as a ditch or ravine offers some protection.
- Basements, interior hallways/rooms, and bathrooms on the lower floors with no windows or exterior walls, offer the best shelter.
- After danger has passed, immediately report any injuries to the UTSA Police Department at (210) 458-4911.
- Immediately leave a badly damaged building and do not attempt to return to the building until directed to do so.
- Do not attempt to turn utilities or equipment on or off.
Shelter in Place
- Seek shelter immediately in any campus building away from windows. If you are in a building, remain there. If not, go inside immediately. Close all doors and windows and turn off the heating and air conditioning systems, if possible.
- If you are in a vehicle at the time of the notification to protect in place, you should close doors and windows, turn off your heating or air conditioning, and then drive out of the at-risk area or to a building you can enter for protection.
- Remain calm, conserve your energy, and wait for notification that all is clear or further instructions regarding evacuation are given.
Suspicious Mail or Packages
The following characteristics may identify suspicious parcels:
- Unexpected or from someone unfamiliar to you.
- Addressed to someone no longer with your organization or is otherwise outdated (e.g., improper title).
- No return address, or one that can't be verified as legitimate.
- Has any powdery substance on the outside.
- Is lopsided or of unusual weight, given its size.
- Marked with restrictive endorsements, such as "Personal" or "Confidential."
- Protruding wires, strange odors or stains.
- Has an unusual amount of tape.
- Has excessive postage applied.
- A city or state in the postmark that doesn't match the return address.
If you receive a suspicious parcel in the mail:
- Do not open the parcel.
- Isolate the piece of mail.
- Call the UTSA Police Department at (210) 458-4911 or 911 (from UTSA phones) for additional instructions.
- Do not pass the letter/parcel to others.
- Deny access to the letter/parcel to everyone except emergency responders.
- Move to an area that minimizes your exposure to others and to the parcel.
- If possible, wash your hands and face with soap and water.
If you open a parcel that appears to be contaminated:
- Do not move the parcel.
- Call the UTSA Police Department at (210) 458-4911 or 911 (from UTSA phones).
- Turn off any fans, window air conditioners and/or small area heaters.
- Isolate the area. Evacuate the adjoining areas.
- Everyone who is evacuated should report to the building's pre-planned assembly area.
- Do not pass the letter/parcel to others. Deny access to the letter to everyone except emergency responders.
- The individual who opened the parcel and anyone else who has come into contact with the parcel should remain isolated, in an area adjacent to the original location, and wait for additional instructions from responding emergency personnel. If possible, the individuals who had contact with the parcel should wash their face and hands with soap and water.
Threats (Bomb, Physical, Terrorist)
All students and staff members will evacuate the building(s) using the pre-planned evacuation route. No individuals will be allowed to remain in the building at their own risk other than those designated as search party personnel.
If you receive a bomb threat, follow the following procedures:
- Bomb threats may be received by telephone, e-mail or letter. If you receive a bomb threat, remain calm and obtain as much of the following information as possible:
- Exact location of bomb.
- When it is going to explode.
- What kind of bomb it is.
- Why it was placed where it was.
- Who the caller is.
- Immediately call the UTSA Police Department (UTSAPD) at (210) 458-4911 or 911 (from UTSA phones). Provide any information that you have received, specifically the location and the time the bomb is supposed to explode.
- If the threat was made in writing, do not handle the letter or note any more than necessary.
- Do not touch or move any unfamiliar objects. Wait for police to arrive on the scene.
- The senior UTSAPD official on site will determine if an evacuation is warranted. If the building is evacuated, account for all building occupants at the designated meeting area.
- The President or their designee will make all decisions regarding cancellation of classes.
- Immediately evacuate the area, using your pre-planned evacuation route.
- Call UTSAPD at (210) 458-4911 or 911 (from UTSA phones). Inform them of the situation with as much information as is available. If it is safe to do so, stay on the phone with the police dispatcher.
Terrorism threats should be reported immediately to UTSAPD at (210) 458-4911 or 911 (from UTSA phones). Threats will be investigated as a crime. If a threat appears to involve imminent danger, facilities will be evacuated. UTSAPD will make this determination.
Utility Failure or Water Contamination
In case of utility failure (electricity, water, gas) call UTSAPD at (210) 458-4911 or 911 (from UTSA phones).
If trapped in an elevator, call UTSAPD with the following information:
- Building name.
- Floor number.
- Room # (if applicable).
- Nature of problem.
- Person or telephone extension to contact.
Remain in place until notified. Individuals in corridors and exit stairs should evacuate while emergency lights are on. Emergency lighting is temporary and is not provided to continue building operations.
- Evacuate the building if the fire alarm sounds or upon notification by authorized emergency personnel.
- In laboratory buildings, fume hoods do not operate during a power outage. Do not use laboratories until the ventilation is properly restored.
Gas Leak/Unusual Odors
- Cease all operations immediately.
- Do not use cell phones or other electronic equipment.
- Do not switch lights on or off.
- Evacuate as soon as possible.
- Cease using all electrical equipment.
- Avoid contact with the water.
- Evacuate the building if necessary.
If there is an emergency affecting the water supply:
- Follow all instructions from local authorities about purifying your water (commonly called “boil orders”) or use other water sources until authorities notify your community that it is safe to drink from the regular water supply again.
- Use the safest water you have first before turning to other water sources.
After the Emergency
Whether an emergency is weather-related, workplace violence or a fire, appropriate actions must be taken to ensure that procedures are followed to protect the facility.
If an individual is injured or becomes ill due to the workplace environment, follow these procedures:
- Ensure that the individual has received appropriate medical care.
- Notify the individual's immediate supervisor of the injury/illness and the surrounding events.
- Ensure that an accident report is submitted. Reports for student injuries should be submitted to Wellness 360 at (210) 458-4142. Reports for faculty/staff injuries should be submitted to Risk and Emergency Management at (210) 458-5250.
Damage to Your Building or Other Property
If your building, equipment or UTSA vehicle has received damage during an emergency, you should notify the building supervisor or your immediate supervisor of the damage and the need to repair the facility on an emergency basis. Also notify Risk and Emergency Management at (210) 458-4250.
How to Report a Crime
UTSA maintains a 24-hour, 7 days per week operation. Sworn police officers and state certified dispatchers are on duty to respond to any crime, suspected crime or incident requiring police attention. Emergency phones are available throughout campus. The UTSA Police Department (UTSAPD) actively participates in new student orientation programs and other programs to promote crime awareness and reporting.
If you are the victim of crime, suspect that a crime has been committed or have witnessed a crime, report it to UTSAPD:
- (210) 458-4911 or 911 (from UTSA phones)
- (210) 458-4242
- Through the Silent Witness Program