Plans and Procedures

What to Do in an Emergency

Every emergency is different. We've outlined key steps to respond to some of the more common emergency situations:

These don’t explain everything, so download the PDFs, print them and file for future use. Consider posting them in your classroom or reviewing them with your employees each year.

Active Shooter

Case Western Reserve University follows the “ALICE” active-shooter protocol.

Its five main steps are:

  1. Alert that there is a dangerous situation (call police)
  2. Lockdown the premises (see instructions in PDF below)
  3. Inform the community of situation status and prescribed action
  4. Counter the active shooter by throwing items at his/her head, creating noise, attacking, creating chaos
  5. Evacuate the danger zone quickly

Download the full instructions for an active shooter situation.

Bomb Threat

If you receive a phone call bomb threat:

  1. Listen to the caller’s voice characteristics, accent and other distinguishable features as well as background noises. Write down everything said and the exact time of call.
  2. Keep the caller talking as long as possible and ask the following:
    • Who are you?
    • Where is the bomb located?
    • When will the bomb go off?
    • What type of bomb is it?
    • What does the bomb look like?
    • Why was the bomb planted?
  3. Call police dispatch immediately at 216.368.3333 and provide the information.

Download the full instructions for a bomb threat.


  1. If indoors, drop, cover and hold on. If you are not near a strong table or desk, drop to the floor against an interior wall and cover your head and neck with your arms.
  2. If outdoors, stay away from buildings and move to a clear area if you can safely walk. Avoid power lines, buildings and trees.
  3. Once the shaking stops, check around you for dangerous conditions—such as fires, downed power lines and structure damage. Be alert to the safety of others. Provide first aid if needed, but do not move seriously injured persons.

Download the full instructions for an earthquake‌.


You may need to evacuate campus—for example, in a fire, to escape an active shooter or when instructed by emergency personnel.

If evacuating:

  1. Remain calm and quiet. Listen to floor coordinators and emergency personnel.
  2. If time allows, quickly gather critical personal belongings, and exit the building via stairwells. DO NOT use elevators.
  3. Proceed to the building’s evacuation point unless instructed otherwise.

Download the full instructions for an evacuation.


  1. If you smell or see smoke or fire, activate a fire alarm. Evacuation is mandatory when a fire alarm is heard.
  2. If fire is present in the immediate area, leave all belongings and exit immediately. Otherwise, when an alarm sounds, quickly gather essential personal belongings (ID, keys, purse, wallets, etc.) and exit the building. Close doors to help contain fire.
  3. Follow the building’s evacuation map and exit to your designated evacuation assembly area. Persons with disabilities who are unable to use the stairs should wait in the stairwell for assistance.

Download the full instructions for a fire.

Hazardous Materials (On Campus)

A release of hazardous materials (HAZMAT) could involve chemical, biological or radioactive materials.

If a HAZMAT release occurs on campus that cannot be handled safely by a TRAINED employee, then:

  1. Alert people in the immediate area of the spill, evacuate the area (including nearby rooms) and call CWRU Police at 216.368.3333.
  2. Confine the hazard by closing doors. If you are contaminated, use eyewash or safety showers as needed to rinse off contamination. Then, isolate yourself.
  3. The facility emergency liaison or building evacuation leader must call 216.368.3333 to verify the fire alarm/evacuation signal was received. Provide as much information as possible on the hazardous materials release. At the designated evacuation point, notify emergency responders of the location, nature and size of the spill.

Download the full instructions for hazardous materials on campus.

Hazardous Materials (Off Campus)

Large-scale hazardous material releases on campus, contiguous roads or railways or in local jurisdictional areas have the potential to impact the CWRU community.

If such a release occurs:

  1. Shelter in place unless otherwise instructed via emergency alerts.
  2. Close and lock all exterior doors and windows, vents, etc.; turn off air conditioners and ventilation systems; seal gaps under doorways and windows; and go to a pre-selected shelter room.
  3. If caught outside, stay uphill and upwind, and try to go at least ½ mile from the danger area. If possible, cover mouth with a cloth while leaving the area.

Download the full instructions for hazardous materials off campus.


Lockdown is a form of sheltering in place used when it may be more dangerous to evacuate.

When you receive a lockdown notification:

  1. Stay in your classroom, room or office; secure the door and windows; and await further instructions or escort.
  2. Barricade the door with tables and chairs; close curtains or blinds; and stay low, quiet and away from windows and doors.
  3. DO NOT call CWRU police or 911 unless you have immediate concern for your safety or the safety of others, or if you have critical information to assist emergency personnel in the response. DO NOT make non-essential calls.

Download the full instructions for a lockdown.

Medical Emergency

  1. Check the scene for your own safety. If the situation is unsafe, do not attempt to get to the victim. Leave immediately and call for help. If it is safe, check the victim and determine whether he/she is conscious/breathing.
  2. Call police at 216.368.3333 and provide relevant information, including your name and the location of the injured/ill person.
  3. Provide care for the victim if you are trained to do so, but otherwise just stay with the victim until help arrives.

Download the full instructions for a medical emergency.

Shelter in Place

An incident may occur that requires you to remain inside a building during an emergency—either at your discretion or based on instructions from emergency personnel. Examples of when to shelter in place include during a tornado warning, in an active shooter situation if evacuation cannot be attempted safely or during a power failure, among others.

  1. If it is safe to do so, move to an area farthest away from the incident/hazard.
  2. Call police at 216.368.3333 and keep responders informed of changes in your situation.
  3. Leave only if told to do so by first responders, or if the situation changes to allow safe escape or evacuation.

Download the full instructions for a shelter in place.

Severe Weather (Tornado)

  1. Do not wait for instruction. Follow procedures and move to the basement or ground-floor, center hall of the building you are in, closing office doors as you leave and grabbing your emergency kit, if you’ve created one.
  2. Do not use elevators and stay away from windows/doors with glass panes.
  3. Sit or crouch in an inner hall or room until given the all clear.

Download the full instructions for a tornado.

Suspicious Object

A suspicious item is anything that is out of place and cannot be accounted for, or any item suspected of being an explosive device.

If you receive a written threat or suspicious package, or you find a suspicious object:

  1. Call university police immediately at 216.368.3333.
  2. Keep anyone from handling or going near it; if anyone touches it, document their names and have them wash their hands immediately.
  3. Provide detailed information to police/emergency responders/investigators, but do not discuss the threat with other employees or students.

Download the full instructions for a suspicious object.