Ohio University Southern holds safety seminar

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IRONTON, Ohio (WSAZ) -- Students and staff at Ohio University Southern spent Friday morning preparing for the worst and hoping for the best in their annual safety seminar.

After the attack at Ohio State University, investigators say a student rammed his car into a group of people on campus, then got out and charged at passersby with a knife. OSU Police eventually shot and killed the suspect. The seminar came at a perfect time teaching those who attended what to do in violent situations not just at school but in their daily lives.

"These do take place anywhere," said James Stephens. Stephens is the director of Law Enforcement Technology at OU Southern and is a former Kentucky State Police trooper. Stephens led the seminar, giving staff and students safety tips for any life situation -- not just at school.

"Personal safety, I believe, is exactly that. It's personal, and we're going to talk about being aware of your surroundings, talking about the situational components, how to reduce your chances of becoming a victim of a personal crime," he added.

Stephens says staying alert and aware of suspicious behavior is key. Know what kind of behavior is normal for wherever you are. He also says to keep in mind the nearest exit to you in crowded or public places should an attack unfold. Avoid hiding in closets and bathrooms because you may get stuck where you are and will have no place else to go to get to safety.

Stephens says his training used to reference "active shooters" but because of different methods and weapons used, he says the more appropriate term would be "active aggressor."

In the seminar, Stephens used several real life examples of attacks such as the Boston Marathon bombing, Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, and a knife attack at a Minnesota mall as ways to explain not just how to detect "signs" of people who may attack but how to react.

Other measures discussed as it pertains safety in an office is to never allow your back to face an entrance or exit. That way you know who is coming in and out. Also go out in the hallway and close your office door and look in. Take note of where you could or couldn't be seen if an attacker were to peer in. This way you know where you can safely hide should your office be faced with an intruder.

Lastly, Stephens also stressed not waiting until after an attack to prepare for the "next time." Make a plan before the first one, and hope you don't need to execute it at all.

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