False active shooter alarm triggered at Lower Columbia College d - KPTV - FOX 12

False active shooter alarm triggered at Lower Columbia College due to human error

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A new emergency notification button at Lower Columbia College, like the one seen here, was accidentally pushed Friday, triggering alerts from the school and a panic among the students. (KPTV) A new emergency notification button at Lower Columbia College, like the one seen here, was accidentally pushed Friday, triggering alerts from the school and a panic among the students. (KPTV)
LONGVIEW, WA (KPTV) -

Only six days after the false missile alert in Hawaii sent people running for their lives, a similar false threat on Lower Columbia College’s campus happened Friday.

Janel Skreen, the college’s Director of Environmental Health and Safety said the incident occurred while crews were installing the last of their ‘active shooter’ buttons Friday morning.

The buttons are part of a new emergency notification system that deploys an instantaneous message when pressed, and one of the buttons was accidentally triggered around 11:15 a.m.

Skreen said around 1,300 people were on campus at the time a message came over the loudspeaker. She also said the alert was broadcast across campus and to two nearby schools, Mark Morris High School and Northlake Elementary School.

“The alarms came on and said, ‘There’s an active shooter on LCC campus: Run, hide, fight.’ Just over and over again with the alarms blaring,” pre-nursing student Talyah Bullock said, adding that she ran as fast as she could to her car and drove away from campus.

Andrew Dove says he thought his four-year-old son was on campus at the time.

“My heart was racing. Like I was just thinking about the worst because there are shootings that happen all the time,” he said. “Can’t describe the fear that I had. I was just worried about my son and just thinking about losing him. That’s all I could think about.”

School officials said the accident is a learning experience for the faculty and students on campus.

“There’s always the component of human error. The potential is always there,” Skreen explained. “I don’t think this system will even ever be completely human-error proof.”

Although Bullock knows now the alarm was fake, she told FOX 12 her fear was real.

“I was shaking, crying, just trying to get away as soon as possible,” she said. “I called my mom first cause I didn’t want her or any of my family members going on Facebook and seeing that and not knowing if I was okay.”

School officials said that three minutes after the false alarm, they pushed emails out to staff and students telling them there was no emergency. They also said they notified emergency dispatchers within seconds of realizing it was a false alarm.

Cowlitz County dispatch officials told FOX 12 they took around 20 calls before asking Cowlitz County’s Department of Emergency Management to also get the word out on social media that no one was in danger.

School officials say they understand the impact it had on more than a thousand people on campus at the time, and they’re just glad no one was hurt.

“I’m still very terrified to go back to school on Monday,” Bullock said. “I mean, I’ve put this idea in my head like, ‘Okay, this can happen. Nobody’s immune to this happening. It can happen anywhere.’”

School officials carried out debriefing and counseling sessions with staff and students after the false alarm. Skreen said the sessions will most likely carry into next week.

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