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Emergency Procedures

This Emergency Procedures guide is intended to assist members of the SSU community in responding to emergencies that they may confront in the course of their duties.

These procedures should be used in conjunction with each building’s Emergency Plan, which includes important planning, response and recovery information, including evacuation and lockdown planning, key emergency resources and designated area, building and floor marshals. Safety Marshals have the primary role of assisting with the safe and orderly evacuation of buildings during emergencies.

No matter the emergency, it is critical that students, faculty, staff, and guests of the University be familiar with campus procedures and considers their own person preparation for emergencies and how they would respond to an emergency. Every classroom, office, and space on campus presents different advantages and challenges in responding to an emergency. Consider how you would respond for every space you frequent.

Sonoma State University Police Services is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to respond to any emergency that may develop. You can reach Police Services by calling (707) 664-4444. If you have questions about emergency preparedness or response or questions about these procedures or how to prepare and respond to any emergency or disaster, please contact Emergency Services at

Every emergency poses a unique and ever-changing combination of factors and challenges, so no guide can ever be 100% complete. Plan ahead. Safety is a responsibility we all share.

Phone Numbers

In ALL emergencies, dial 911*. To reach University Police for non-emergencies, please call (707) 664-4444 (extension 4-4444 from a campus phone). 911 calls, including those from mobile phones, will be answered by the closest public safety dispatch center and are not automatically referred to regional CHP centers.

Safety and emergency response at Sonoma State University is a responsibility shared by hundreds of employees across many departments. The following numbers are provided for routine calls and non-emergency situations. Most departments listed below are staffed between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

  • University Police - (707) 664-4444
  • Counseling and Psychological Services - (707) 664-2153
  • Student Health Center - (707) 664-2921
  • Residential Education & Campus Housing -(707) 664-2541
  • Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (includes Title IX Office) - (707) 664-4140
  • Disability Services for Students (Voice) - (707) 664-2677
  • Disability Services for Students (TDD) - (707) 664-2958
  • Facilities Services - (707) 664-2317
  • Housing - (707) 664-2541
  • Human Resources - (707) 664-3100
  • Information Technology - (707) 664-4357
  • Seawolf Service Center - (707) 664-2308

Reporting a Crime

Reporting Checklist

  • Location of Incident
  • Direction of Travel
  • Vehicle:
    • License Plate
    • Color
    • Make
    • Type
    • Model
    • Notable markings or damage
  • Suspect:
    • Male or Female
    • Approximate Age
    • Weight
    • Height
    • Hair Color
    • Hair Length
    • Clothing:
      • Shirt
      • Pants
      • Shoes
      • Coat
      • Hat

Crime in Progress

Do not attempt to apprehend or interfere with a subject who is committing or you believe may commit a crime, except in case of self-protection.

  1. If it is safe to do so, stop and take time to get a good description of the criminal. Note the following: height, weight, gender, race, approximate age, clothing, method and direction of travel, and name, if known. All of this takes only seconds and is of the utmost help to investigating officers. Use the checklist below to collect information.
  2. If the criminal is entering a vehicle, note the license plate number, make and model, color, and other characteristics (stickers, obvious body damage). Use the checklist below to collect information.
  3. Call 911. Give your name and location. Advise the dispatcher of the situation and remain where you are until contacted by an officer. Be prepared to provide details about the specific actions taken by the person that make you believe there is a crime in progress or that a crime could take place.
  4. In the event of civil disturbance, avoid the affected area. If the disturbance is outside and you are inside, stay away from doors and windows.
  5. Do not interfere with those persons creating the disturbance or with emergency responders.

How to Reach Police

  • Emergency: 911
  • Non-emergency and business: (707) 664-4444

Hazardous Materials Incident

If an uncontrolled release occurs from any type of vessel containing potentially hazardous materials, the following steps should be taken:

  • Call 911
  • Provide your name, the location of the emergency, type of material (if known) and the volume of the spill (if known).
  • Notify others in the area of the incident.
  • If known, contact the individual responsible for the material.
    • Secure the area; keep people out.
    • Close doors, post signs, etc.
  • Pour absorbent dike or barrier.
  • Open windows and turn on exhaust hoods to vent.
  • If it can be done safely, tip containers upright and close lid or valve.
  • Move a safe distance away (depends on the spill and material); generally the entire floor will require evacuation. When in doubt, evacuate the entire building by announcing the evacuation through the halls and pulling fire alarm pull stations.
  • Report any injuries or illnesses to first responders after evacuating the building.
  • Do not return to any area/building until all alarms are silenced AND you are instructed to do so.

Suspected gas leaks or suspicious odors should be reported to University Police by calling 911.


Drop, Cover, Hold On

  1. Remain calm. Stay indoors during the shaking and stay from windows, bookcases, and other things that may fall. If possible, take cover under a desk or table. DO NOT RUSH FOR THE DOORS.
  2. If in an automobile, stop in the safest place available, preferably in an open space away from overpasses, power lines, and trees. Stop as quickly as safety permits, but stay in the vehicle as it provides shelter.
  3. After the shock subsides, get out of doors and well clear of buildings and trees as aftershocks are likely. DO NOT USE ELEVATORS. Provide assistance to any disabled or injured persons in using the stairs.
  4. Identify and assist the injured. Call 911 ONLY if there are serious injuries, significant damage to a building, and/or known trapped persons in the building.
  5. If applicable, follow the procedures in this manual for fire, hazardous materials leaks, and serious injury.
  6. In the event of major damage or destruction, emergency responders will evaluate buildings and determine if/when it is safe for occupancy. Do not reenter a building with visible or suspected structural damage until cleared by emergency responders. Never enter a building when a fire alarm is sounding.

Suspicious Packages or Mail

How to Recognize and Handle a Suspicious Package

  • Inappropriate or Unusual Labeling
  • Excessive postage
  • Handwritten or poorly typed addresses
  • Postmarked from a city or state that does not match the return address or no return address
  • Marked with threatening language
  • Incorrect titles or titles without a name
  • Marked with restrictions, such as “Personal,” “Confidential,” or “Do Not X-Ray”

Overall Appearance

  • Powdery substance felt through or appearing on the package
  • Oily stains, discolorations, or odor
  • Ticking sound
  • Protruding wires aluminum foil visible
  • Unusual weight based on size
  • Excessive tape or unusual protective covering

What to Do

  • Do not shake or empty the contents.
  • Do not carry the package, show to others, or deliver to Police.
  • Put the package down on a stable surface.
  • Do not sniff, touch, taste, or closely examine any spilled contents.
  • Leave the area and notify others in the immediate area.
  • Call University Police at 911 or (707) 664-4444.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water as soon as possible.

Bomb Threat

Telephone Threats

  • Bomb threats usually occur by telephone.
  • The person receiving a bomb threat call should remain calm and attempt to obtain as much information as possible from the caller using the checklist in the next section.
  • Call 911, giving your name, location, and telephone number. Inform them of the situation, including any information you may have as the location of the bomb, time is set to explode, and the time you received the call.
  • Inform your supervisor and/or department head.
  • Campus authorities will make determinations about building evacuation. If you feel unsafe, take appropriate action unless ordered otherwise by emergency responders.

Suspicious Objects

  • If you should spot a suspicious object, package, etc., report it to the authorities, but under no circumstances should you touch it, tamper with, or move other otherwise handle it in any way.
  • Do not use a mobile device near the suspicious object to call University Police. Identify a landlane or leave the area to make the notification.
  • If instructed to evacuate, move a safe distance away from the building (a minimum of 100 yards). If inclement weather conditions exist, you may move to another building that is a safe distance away and approved by emergency responders. Do not reenter until instructed by emergency responders that it is safe to do so.
  • Do not pull fire alarms, activate radio systems or use mobile devices or other electronic equipment in the area of a suspected bomb.

Bomb Threat Checklist

General Information
  • Where is the bomb going to explode?
  • Where is the bomb right now?
  • What does the bomb look like?
  • What kind of bomb is it?
  • What will cause the bomb to explode?
  • Did you place the bomb?
  • Why?
  • What is your address?
  • What is your name?
  • Gender of caller (if determinable)

Caller Characteristics

Caller's Voice

  • Calm
  • Angry
  • Excited
  • Distinct
  • Soft
  • Cracking Voice
  • Familiar
  • Electronic
  • Laughing
  • Crying
  • Normal
  • Raged
  • Nasal
  • Clearing Throat
  • Lisp
  • Raspy
  • Deep
  • Rapid
  • Loud
  • Deep Breathing
  • Distinguished
  • Accent
  • Slow
  • Slurred
  • Stutter
Background Sounds
  • Street Noise
  • Motor
  • Office Machines
  • Music
  • House Noises
  • Static
  • PA System
  • Animal Noises
  • Clear
  • Conversation
  • Factory Machinery
  • Booth
Threat Language
  • Well Spoken
  • Message Read
  • Incoherent
  • Taped
  • Irrational
  • Profane

Medical Emergency

  • Do not move a seriously injured person unless there is a life-threatening emergency in the immediate area.
  • Call 911. Give your name, location, and telephone number. Provide as much information as possible regarding the nature of the injury or illness. The dispatcher will need to know if the person is conscience, breathing, if they are bleeding, aware of their surroundings and other information based on the nature of the injury or illness.
  • Officers will arrange for emergency medical responders and will likely respond to your location. Stay with the victim until help arrives. Call 911 again if the condition of the victim gets significantly worse.
  • If you are capable and knowledgeable, administer first aid and/or keep the victim as calm as possible.
  • Do not provide food or water to the victim.

Blood, Body Fluid, or Infectious Exposures

Biological exposure is any contact between the eyes, mouth, mucus membrane and/or any non-intact skin with blood or other bodily fluid that could carry infection. If you are exposed, immediately wash the area with soap and water or use eye wash for 15 minutes. Notify your supervisor. They will work with you to seek medical care, complete the required paperwork and make the proper notifications.

Injury Prevention

Injuries can be prevented. Be sure your work area is kept neat and hazards are reported right away. Non-urgent work orders should be reported to Seawolf Services at (707) 664-2308. Emergency work orders should be called into Facilities Services at (707) 664-2317.

Injury Reporting

All workplace injuries must be reported. Please visit the Human Resources website or call Human Resources at (707) 664-3100 to learn more and obtain reporting forms.


Evacuation of any campus building may be ordered due to fire, structural damage, or any other hazard recognized by an authorized University employee or emergency responder. Generally, evacuation will be ordered through public announcement, emergency notification, or in activation of the fire alarm.

State law mandates that all persons not responding to the emergency evacuate the building when an alarm sounds.

Evacuation Procedures

Upon the sounding of a fire alarm or other evacuation order, all persons are to gather their belongings (if it is safe to do so) and proceed, in an orderly manner, to the nearest emergency exit. If you encounter a closed fire door, turn around and proceed to the marked exit. Do not use elevators.

If you are unable to self-evacuate due to injury, disability, or other functional need, proceed to the nearest exit or stairwell, if possible, and call 911 to advise University Police of your location and need for assistance. Wait as long as it is safe to do so. If you are able to evacuate but are aware of the location of someone else unable to evacuate, notify an emergency responder when you are clear of the building or call 911.

Evacuate at least 50 feet from the building. If you see smoke or flame or are aware of a threat within the building, evacuate at least 100 feet from the building.

For information on assembly areas, please visit the Evacuation website.

Persons with Disabilities

It is suggested that the a person with any disability that may effect self-evacuation prepare for an emergency ahead of time by instructing a classmate, professor or co-worker on how to assist them in the event of an emergency. Persons who are deaf or hard of hearing should make themselves familiar with the alternate alarm notifications in their building and may consider carrying a pen and a notepad to assist in emergency communications. Employees may be matched with an evacuation aide as part of their department's emergency plan.

In the event of an emergency, people with disabilities should observe the following evacuation procedures:

  • All persons should move toward the nearest marked exit. As a first choice, a person with a mobility impairment may use the building elevators, but NEVER in the case of earthquake or fire.
  • As a second choice, a person with mobility impairment reaches an obstruction, such as a staircase, they should request assistance from others in the area. If assistance is not immediately available, a person with a mobility impairment should stay in the exit corridor, on the stairway or landing. The person should call 911 if possible to notify emergency responders of their location. In addition to using a phone to call 911, persons who cannot speak loudly should carry a whistle or have other means of attracting the attention of others.
  • If you are aware of a person who is unable to evacuate and you are unable to assist with evacuation, notify first responders immediately.
  • Rescue personnel, fire, and police, will first check all exit corridors and exit stairwells for trapped persons. It is appropriate to call 911 during an emergency if you are unable to evacuate a building.

Considerations for Assisting Persons with Visual Impairment

  • Tell the person the nature of the emergency and offer guidance.
  • Offer your arm for guidance.
  • Do not grasp a visually impaired person’s arm unless they are in severe danger.
  • As you walk, tell the person where you are and advise them of obstacles.
  • Once you reach safety, ask if further help is needed.

Considerations for Assisting Persons with Hearing Impairment

Persons with hearing impairments may not hear emergency alarms – communicate that there’s an emergency by:

  • Turning lights on and off to gain the person’s attention
  • Indicating directions with gesture
  • Writing a note with evacuation directions
  • Assisting to safety as needed

Considerations for Assisting Persons using Crutches, Canes, or Walkers

  • Evacuate these individuals as injured persons
  • Assist and accompany to the evacuation site if possible
  • Use a sturdy chair (or one with wheels) to move the person
  • Help carry the individual to safety.

Considerations for Assisting Persons using a Wheelchair

  • Check with the individual on their preference.
  • Determine if a chair is available.
  • Remove any immediate dangers.
  • Immediately advise arriving first responders of special evacuation cases.

If you are unable to evacuate a person with a disability or an injured person, advise the individual to wait at the stairwell entrance, if possible, and wait for assistance. Notify first responders immediately of the location and description of the person.

For additional information, advice, assistance, or accommodation, please contact Disability Services for Students or Emergency Services. SSU is committed to ensuring equal access to students, faculty, staff, and guests. This commitment includes ensuring that people with disabilities are reasonably accommodated during preparation for emergencies and during emergency response and recovery. In addition to the information in this guide, please contact Disability Services for Students or Emergency Services if you require additional guidance or assistance.

Structure Fire

  • Upon discovering a fire, close the door to the room where the fire is located and immediately sound the building fire alarm by locating and activating a pull station.
  • Call 911. Give your name, department, and the location of the fire. Do not hang up until the dispatcher tells you to do so.
  • If the fire is small, you may wish to fight it with a fire extinguisher. If you can’t extinguish the fire within 30 seconds, close off the area and evacuate.
  • If the fire is large, very smoky, or rapidly spreading, or if alarms are sounding, evacuate the building. Close doors as you go. Do not open any door that is hot to the touch. Do not enter any space that there is not a clear, breathable path (unless there is no other option). This path may be low on the floor. Inform others in the building who may not have responded to the alarm or who may be unaware of the emergency to evacuate. Once outside, warn non-emergency responders not to enter the building.
  • If time permits, take critical personal items and lock file cabinets with confidential information. Walk, do not run, to the nearest stairwell exit. If you have a mobility impairment, request assistance, proceed to the nearest stairway landing, shout for help, and wait there until help arrives. Consultation about these procedures is available from Disability Services for Students or from Emergency Services.
  • When fire alarms sound, do not use elevators. An elevator may become inoperative and trap occupants. Give assistance to disabled persons in using the stairs. See section on the Evacuation of People with Disabilities. Evacuate to a distance of at least 500 feet from the building and stay out of the way of emergency personnel. Do not return to the building until instructed that it is safe to do so. Never enter a building when the alarm is sounding.
  • Notify either police personnel or firefighters on the scene if you suspect someone is trapped in the building.

Active Shooter

More detailed information on Active Shooter Response.

An active shooter is an event in which one or more persons are actively engaging in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area. In most cases, active shooters use firearms and there is no apparent pattern or method to their selection of victims.

run hide fight descriptive image

If faced with an active shooter incident, there are three things you can do that make a difference.

RUN when an active shooter is in your vicinity:

  • If there is a way out, and you can get out, GET OUT! This is your first and best option. Get out whether others agree to or not.
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • Help others from entering the danger zone.
  • Call 911 as soon as it is safe to do so.

HIDE if evacuation is not possible:

  • Lock and/or barricade the door.
  • Silence your cell phone (including vibration).
  • Hide behind large objects if possible.
  • Remain very quiet and do not leave until directed by law enforcement.
  • Your hiding place should:
    • Be out of the shooters view.
    • Provide protection if shots are fired in your direction.
    • Not trap or restrict your options for movement.>

FIGHT AS A LAST RESORT and only if your life is in danger:

  • Attempt to incapacitate the shooter.
  • Act with physical aggression and commit to your actions.
  • Improvise weapons.
  • Once the shooter is incapacitated, call 911.

POLICE RESPONSE when officers arrive:

  • Keep your EMPTY hands raised and visible with your fingers spread apart.
  • Remain calm and follow instructions.
  • Avoid pointing or yelling.
  • The first police officers to arrive will not respond to or aid those who are injured. They will go directly to the shooter. Know that help for the injured is on its way. Rescue team officers and emergency personnel will care for the injured and facilitate evacuation as soon as possible.

Civil Disobedience

Civil disobedience takes two basic forms: mass disobedience like protests or riots, and individual disobedience like altercations and assault. Mass civil disobedience is a real cause for alarm. If the disturbance is outside of a building, take measures to prevent their entry into the building. Lock all the perimeter doors to discourage entry. Do not aggravate the crowd or draw attention to yourself or the building. By definition, a riotous crowd is out of control and without reason. Do not try to protect the building or its contents by interfering with the unruly mob. In the event of civil disobedience:

  • Follow directions from police. Check your phone or email for emergency notifications from SSU Alert.
  • If possible, lock or barricade doors, and keep away from windows. If you cannot lock or barricade doors, consider moving to a secure location, if it is safe to do so.
  • Encourage students and employees to remain indoors where it’s safe.
  • If an unruly presence gains entrance or there is any other emergency, notify University Police by calling 911.