Emergency Planning

Key representatives of the College’s primary functional areas make up the Campus Emergency Management Team (CEMT). CEMT members and alternates meet regularly to prepare for any conceivable campus emergency, review incident action plans, coordinate with emergency response agencies, provide training, and conduct annual emergency drills. The CEMT is structured in accordance with the principles of the National Incident Management System (NIMS). 

Standard Response Protocol GuideA disaster is defined as an event that has the potential to:

  • Seriously impair or halt the operations of the college; or
  • Result in mass casualties or extensive property damage; or
  • Significantly impact the campus, community, or geographic region.

Examples of potentially disastrous circumstances could include a major storm, extensive fire or an explosion, a chemical release, prolonged utility failure, an act of violence or terrorism, or an epidemic disease.

The Bowdoin College Campus Emergency Management Plan (CEMP) is reviewed and updated regularly, and exercises are conducted each year to test the College’s emergency preparedness and response measures. The CEMP conforms with the recommendations of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and is coordinated with parallel efforts by local, county, and state emergency response agencies. The key components of the plan include:

  • Preventative measures designed to protect the overall safety of the campus community;
  • Phased decision-making guidance based upon real-time reporting at the international, national, regional, state, and local level;
  • Recovery and returning to normal operation as soon as is feasible.

SURVIVING AN ACTIVE SHOOTER situation on a college campus requires a clear understanding of what to do and quick decision-making. Here are some essential steps to follow:

  1. Run: If you can safely do so, run away from the shooter's location. Have an escape route in mind and leave your belongings behind. Keep your hands visible and move away from the sounds of gunshots.
  2. Hide: If you can't run, find a place to hide. Go into a room or office, lock or barricade the door, turn off the lights, and stay away from windows. Silence your phone and remain quiet.
  3. Stay Low and Be Still: If you are hiding and unable to escape, crouch low to the ground to make yourself a smaller target. Avoid making noise or drawing attention to your location.
  4. Silent Communication: If you are hiding with others, communicate silently and keep one person designated to call for help if possible.
  5. Don't Open the Door: Do not open the door for anyone, even if they claim to be law enforcement. In an active shooter situation, law enforcement will use other means to enter the area and ensure your safety.
  6. Fight as a Last Resort: If the shooter enters your location and your life is in imminent danger, be prepared to fight back as a last resort. Work together with others and use any improvised weapons available.
  7. Call for Help: If you can do so safely, call 911 or campus security to report the situation. Provide as much information as possible about the shooter's location, appearance, and the number of weapons.
  8. Follow Law Enforcement Instructions: When law enforcement arrives, keep your hands visible, and follow their instructions carefully. They may be searching for the shooter, and it's essential not to do anything that may be perceived as a threat.

Remember that every active shooter situation is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all response. Staying calm, thinking quickly, and making sound decisions can significantly increase your chances of survival. Being familiar with your campus and its safety procedures in advance can also help you react more effectively during an emergency.

As a member of the Bowdoin community, you are integral to the College's preparedness and ability to respond to any campus emergency we can reasonably anticipate.

Are we perfectly prepared? No. Will we ever be perfectly prepared? No. Despite exhaustive planning and preparation, no college campus, corporation, or government could ever be fully ready for any eventuality. Think of 9-11, Katrina, the Gulf Oil Spill, Covid-19, or the major snowstorm that hit Buffalo - just to name a few of the most memorable crises in recent years.

Looking back on any critical incident or disaster response, some things went wrong, some things went right, and a lot was learned for the next one. We keep learning, honing, and improving.

It's not the nature of most emergencies to be predictable and orderly. In fact, emergencies often catch us off-guard. They are sudden, chaotic, sometimes violent, and rarely come at a convenient time when all necessary personnel and resources are at hand. Examples are an active shooter, a catastrophic fire, or an explosion; situations that call for an immediate emergency services response to neutralize the threat.

Other kinds of emergencies give us time to prepare. We can see them coming and can plan accordingly to take preventative action to mitigate harm. Think of a pandemic or weather emergency. These situations may require a sustained response over many days, weeks, or even months.

No two emergencies are alike. There are multiple variables. That's why Bowdoin College takes an all-hazards approach with its Campus Emergency Management Plan (CEMP) and has specific Incident Action Plans (IAPs) for the most likely scenarios; plans that are flexible to adapt to changing conditions.

All plans undergo regular review and revision, based on what we learn from our own and others' actual experiences and practice drills. The bottom line is this: We cannot allow ourselves to become complacent or overly comfortable with ourselves and our emergency response capabilities.

Bowdoin is fortunate to be ideally situated for a prompt and effective emergency response by highly trained professionals. The Brunswick police, fire, and emergency medical services are well-trained and close by, and we regularly coordinate and train with them. We also have support from the sheriff's department and state police, the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), if needed.

We have excellent campus and community health services to help us cope with most emergencies: a full-service hospital and walk-in clinic nearby, and a campus health center.

Our area's transportation infrastructure is enviable. We have easy access to the Route 1/Interstate 95 corridor, bus service and a passenger railroad terminal on our doorstep, and just one mile away an airport with a runway long enough to land large planes.

Our campus buildings are built strong with life-safety systems and access control. The campus maintains continuous security patrols, a 24-hour security communications center, myriad life-safety and security alarms, robust and redundant IT infrastructure, extensive emergency generator capability, and an extensive array of security cameras.

To alert our community, the College uses a multi-facited emergency mass notification system (App Armor and Alertus) - designed for speed-to-notification - to send emergency messaging simultaneously via phone, email, text, computer screen takeover, and to the BowdoinSAFE app. Using this system, the College will keep you informed and updated throughout the emergency and advise you when the campus has been made safe.

For your safety and peace of mind, take reasonable precautions. The people who most calmly and effectively respond to emergency situations have done two things: they imagined what could happen and they prepared, thus reducing the likelihood of being confused, freezing, or panicking in the moment. They have thought it through and made a simple plan (with fellow employees or students) so they know their options, where to go, what to do and how to do it.

Get to thoroughly know the buildings and spaces you regularly use, know where your safe havens are, know how to secure your building or room, and know your evacuation routes. In short, know how to find safety either by sheltering-in-place or by putting maximum distance between yourself and the threat.

Campus and community safety is a shared responsibility. Always be aware and alert. If you see something or sense something is wrong, say something. Typically, there are pre-incident indicators or warning signs that an act of violence is about to happen. If you see concerning behavior, threats, aggression, or anything suspicious, please report it

Prepare yourself, be confident, and have confidence in the College's level of preparedness. Rest assured that, in partnership with the Town of Brunswick, we are ready and getting more ready every day to prevent, respond to, mitigate, and quickly recover from any campus emergency.


Northwestern Safety Training: "Run, Hide, Fight"
How to Survive an Active Shooter - Clint Emerson, Retired Navy Seal
Standard Response Protocol