Minutes after employees at Bluegrass Community and Technical College's Leestown campus got word of Tuesday morning's shooting at the nearby middle school, they began locking down their buildings.
But word of the emergency didn't get out to other students and staff through the university's Safety Notification Alert Process — SNAP — until 8:47 a.m., 45 minutes after Leestown Middle custodian Brian Allen McGuire, 27, allegedly shot and killed a co-worker.
Dave Hellmich, BCTC's academic vice president, one of 10 crisis team members on the Leestown campus, said his first priority was to make sure the buildings were locked because police had already blocked off the area, which would have kept students and employees who were en route out of danger.
But Hellmich acknowledged that the response could have been swifter.
"We always want to have it faster than what it was. I think the response time was good, but, to me, we need to do more," he said. "Perhaps that (SNAP) message should have happened simultaneously" with the lockdown check of the six Leestown campus buildings.
With campus security becoming a major issue for colleges and universities, especially in light of the April 2007 killings at Virginia Tech, the Kentucky Community and Technical College System bolstered its safety procedures with the SNAP notices sent out to student and employees' phones.
Each of BCTC's three campuses has its own crisis communications team of four to 11 employees, said Vernal Kennedy, BCTC spokeswoman.
If there is a severe weather or safety emergency affecting a campus, an employee or student can call 55-911, which rings on the desks of all the crisis team members, like a "bat phone."
The first crisis team member to pick up the phone assesses the problem and responds.
Hellmich said police stopped by the campus Tuesday and told Sue Mattox, director of financial aid, of the shooting at the middle school. Mattox called the emergency line, which was answered by Sandra Carey, dean of academic affairs. Carey called Hellmich immediately at 8:21 a.m.
And Hellmich said he rushed to make sure the buildings were locked down, including Building A, which had outside contractors who were working on the HVAC system.
Text messages saying that "there's been an active shooting at the middle school next to the Leestown campus" and that the campus was on lockdown went out at 8:47 a.m. At 11:18 a.m., a notice that the campus could return to normal was sent through the SNAP system.