From Sept. 14 to 18, McGill hosted Safety Week, a series of events and informational services aimed at promoting preparedness across campus. McGill’s Safety Planning Officer Alysia Quirke explained the importance of remaining attentive in every day situations.
“When we’re so busy, we can often become really complacent about safety,” she said. “Or you’re [too] busy, until you realize you’re in a situation where you don’t know what to do [….] We’ve had our fair share of experiences [at McGill], between floods and fires. We had a fire at RVC just this year.”
As part of Safety Week, Diane Gauvin, the academic dean of Dawson College, spoke about her experience as a victim of the 2006 on-campus shooting on Sept. 16, three days after the ninth anniversary of the Dawson College shooting that killed one student and wounded 16 others.
“I was in the director general’s office […] and I heard a group of students screaming, […] then I saw one of the student’s [faces] and I thought there was really something [wrong],” she said. “From then on I heard shots and they were very, very loud and they kept echoing. I was quite far from the shooting but I still heard it [….] In my mindset, we [needed] to evacuate. So I went and evacuated as much as I could the wings of the college, as far as I could.”
Gauvin also stressed the importance of thinking quickly when in an evacuation situation.
“If you’re able to, hide your cellphone [and take] your own keys,” she said. “Some people didn’t have access to their home keys for two to three days after, because they left everything where they were.”
In the aftermath of the shooting, Gauvin underscored that Dawson College sought to re-establish a safe learning environment through well-coordinated measures.
“We did not want to become […] a school with security guards everywhere,” she explained. “We [had] to remain focused on education. We [had] to provide a safe environment that was critical upon return. We wanted to reopen as soon as possible so we sought a lot of support.”
Director of Campus Public Safety, Pierre Barbarie, addressed the importance of learning about active shooter protocols.
“We felt as a committee that it would benefit our constituents to hear from an individual that wanted to speak about the incident, but most importantly how [Ms. Gauvin] and [her] colleagues dealt with this tragic event,” he said.
McGill’s Department of Campus Public Safety described the Get Out, Hide Out, or Take Out method of reacting to an active shooter situation. These principles include following an escape route, hiding out of the shooter’s view, and, as a last resort, using force when in imminent danger.
"There is nothing we can do to prevent [an active shooter situation].” Barbarie said. “But what we can do is educate individuals. So look out for signs to how to best react to a situation should it occur.