The Catholic University of America

How We Manage Emergencies


Emergency occurences, perceived or actual, are communicated or reported to the Department of Public Safety (DPS) at 202-319-5111.  In an emergency situation where the campus requires an immediate response, the Catholic University Emergency Notification Plan will be activated.

DPS will:

  • Deploy the "All-Campus Alert" announcement system on campus with a set announcement
  • Alert Office of Marketing and Communications
  • Alert President

The Office of Marketing and Communications will:

  • Send a text, email, and voicemail alert via CUAlert to students, faculty, and staff.  (User preferences for CUAlert can be verified or updated at any time at  Use your Catholic University username and password to log in).
  • Post alerts and updates to Twitter and Facebook.
  • Send additional notices to students, faculty, and staff via University email lists.  Family members who wish to receive email updates can sign up for the Family email list.
  • Provide initial post and updates as needed for the Safety First web page.


The two basic responses in an emergency are Evacuation and Shelter in Place.

Evacuation: For an emergency that would be dangerous to your life and health if you were to stay in your building.

Be prepared: Before an emergency happens, find at least two emergency exits from your building.  Sound the fire alarm in the event of fire.  For other evacuation emergencies, call the Department of Public Safety at ext. 5111.

  • Exit the building from the closest available exit.  Don't use the elevator.
  • If you can't evacuate:   Call X 5111 and/or go to a window and signal for help.  Go to the nearest exit or oreferred area of safe refuge and await the arrival of emergency personnel.

Shelter-in-Place:   For an emergency that would put you in danger if you were to leave your building.  (shelter-in-place is advised in most situations, unless the building you are in is affected by the incident). 

  • Stay calm and do not panic.
  • Stay inside unless a fire alarm sounds or you have been instructed to leave by a Catholic University official.  
  • For updates, monitor the Catholic University web page, email, and social media and turn on the radio or TV.
  • If you are outside, seek shelter inside a building, do not remain outside.
  • Follow building-specific instructions from your resident assistant or the building watch captain.
  • Wait for further instructions from a Catholic University official.

Emergency Response Guidelines

The following guidelines are intended to reduce your personal risk in the unlikely event that an emergency incident should occur on campus.

In the event an active shooter whereby someone has entered the area and started shooting, the following are a list of recommended actions:

  • Exit the building immediately.
  • Notify anyone you may encounter to exit the building immediately.
  • Notify the police by calling 911 and Public Safety at 202-319-5111.
  • Give the operator the following information:  Your Name, Location of the incident (be as specific as possible), Number of shooters (if known), Description of shooter (if known), Number  of persons who may be involved, and Your location.
  • Individuals not immediately impacted by the situation should take protective cover within the shelter-in-place location, staying away from windows and doors until notified otherwise.

In the event of an active shooter whereby you are directly involved and exiting the building is not possible, the following actions are recommended:

  • Go to the nearest room or office.
  • Close the door, lock if possible.
  • Move away from windows and doors.
  • Keep quiet and act as if no one is in the room.  Put cell phoe on silent.
  • Notify the police at 911 and DPS at 202-319-5111.
  • Give the 911 Operator the following information:   Your Name, Your Location (be as specific as possible), Number of shooters (if known), Description of shooter (if known),and Number of persons who may be involved.
  • Wait for the police to assist you out of the building.

In the event of a fire:

  • Sound the fire alarm.
  • Before opening a door, feel the door handle:   If it is hot, don't open it.  Go to a window and call for help.  If it is not hot, open cautiously.  Check for smoke or fire before leaving.  If there is smoke in your room or in the hallway while you are getting out, STAY LOW to the floor.  If you cannot get out of the door, get someone's attention,(e.g., yell and scream out a window).  If you can, hang an attention-getting item on or from a window (e.g., a sheet, sign or coat) and call 202-319-5111.
  • Once outside:  Call the Department of Public Safety (202-319-5111) from a safe location.  Report to the assembly area designated for the building ( see emergency policy poster map in each building).

In the event of a bomb threat (or any threat to a person's safety):  

Take bomb threats seriously!  If you receive a threat: 

  • Stay calm and keep your voice calm. 
  • Pay close attention to details.  Talk to the caller to obtain as much information as possible. 
  • Take notes.  Write down other data:  Date and time of call or written threat was received.  How threat was received(letter, note, telephone).  
  • Call the Department of Public Safety at 202-319-5111. 
  • Submit your notes from the telephone call or the bomb threat (letter or note) to DPS.
  • Follow the University officials' instruction.

 Faculty and Staff Responsibilities

Catholic University faculty and staff should immediately document and report incidents of aberrant, dangerous, or threatening behavior to the Department of Public Safety, Office of the Dean of Students, and/or the Counseling Center.  Reporting recommendations may be found at