Clery / Higher Education Opportunity Act

Emergency Response

Webster University's Crisis Response Manual includes information about the various crisis response teams in place should a crisis incident occur. The manual also contains University operating status parameters; incident priorities and performance expectations; shelter-in-place and evacuation guidelines; and local contingency and continuity planning requirements. Buildings and departments within Webster University are responsible for developing contingency plans and continuity of operations plans for their staff and areas of responsibility. The University conducts numerous emergency response exercises each year, such as table top exercises, field exercises, and tests of the emergency notification systems on campus. These tests are designed to assess and evaluate the emergency plans and capabilities of the institution.

Department of Public Safety officers and supervisors have received training in Incident Command and Responding to Critical Incidents on Campus. When a serious incident occurs that causes an immediate threat to the campus, the first responders to the scene are usually the Public Safety officers, Webster Groves Police officers, Webster Groves Fire and Emergency Medical Services. They typically respond and work together to manage the incident. Depending on the nature of the incident, other departments within Webster University and other local or federal emergency response agencies could also be involved in responding to the incident.

General information about the emergency response and evacuation procedures for Webster University are publicized each year as part of the institution's Clery Act compliance efforts and that information is available on the Department of Public Safety web site. Certain detailed information along with any updates to the Crisis Response Manual are not made public, but can be viewed by members of the Webster University community by downloading the information to your connections.

All members of the Webster University Community are notified on an annual basis that they are required to notify the Department of Public Safety of any situation or incident on campus that involves a significant emergency or dangerous situation that may involve an immediate or on going threat to the health and safety of students and/or employees on campus. The Department of Public Safety has the responsibility of responding to, and summoning the necessary resources, to mitigate, investigate, and document any situation that may cause a significant emergency or dangerous situation. In addition, the Department of Public Safety has a responsibility to respond to such incidents to determine if the situation does in fact, pose a threat to the community. If that is the case, Federal Law requires that the institution immediately notify the campus community or the appropriate segments of the community that may be affected by the situation.

Notification to the Webster University Community about an Immediate Threat

The Department of Public Safety and Office of Public Affairs may receive information from various offices/departments on campus about an emergency situation. If the Department of Public Safety confirms that there is an emergency or dangerous situation that poses an immediate threat to the health or safety of some or all members of the Webster University Community, The Department of Public Safety and the Office of Public Affairs will collaborate to determine the content of the message and will use some or all of the systems described below to communicate the threat to the Webster University Community or to the appropriate segment of the community, if the threat is limited to a particular building or segment of the population. The Office of Public Affairs will, without delay and taking into account the safety of the community, determine the content of the notification and initiate the notification system, unless issuing a notification will, in the judgment of the first responders (including, but not limited to: the Department of Public Safety, Webster Groves Police, and/or the Webster Groves Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services, compromise the efforts to assist a victim or to contain, respond to, or otherwise mitigate the emergency.

In the event of a serious incident that poses an immediate threat to members of the Webster University community, the University has various systems in place for communicating information quickly. Some or all of these methods of communication may be activated in the event of an immediate threat to the Webster campus community. These methods of communication include network emails, broadcast over IP telephones, Webster Today, Webster Alerts (emergency text messaging system. Individuals can sign up for this service on the Information Technology web site at, and any updates to the crisis on the Webster webpage at

Members of the larger community who are interested in receiving information about emergencies on campus should sign up for the emergency text message system.

Emergency Evacuation Procedures

An evacuation drill is coordinated by the Department of Public Safety each semester for all residential facilities on the main campus. Thus, the emergency response and evacuation procedures are tested at least twice each year. Students learn the locations of the emergency exits in the buildings and are provided guidance about the direction they should travel when exiting each facility for a short-term building evacuation. The Department of Public Safety works with Housing and Residential Life to conduct these drills and may or may not not tell residents in advance about the designated locations for long-term evacuations because those decisions are affected by time of day, location of the building being evacuated, the availability of the various designated emergency gathering locations on campus, and other factors such as the location and nature of the threat. In both cases, the Department of Public Safety and Housing staff on the scene will communicate information to students regarding the developing situation or any evacuation status changes.

The purpose of evacuation drills is to prepare building occupants for an organized evacuation in case of fire or other emergency. At Webster University, evacuation drills are used as a way to educate and train occupants on fire safety issues specific to their building. During the drill, occupants 'practice' drill procedures and familiarize themselves with the location of exits and the sound of the fire alarm. In addition to educating the occupants of each building about the evacuation procedures during the drills, the process also provides the University an opportunity to test the operation of fire alarm system components.

Evacuation drills are monitored by the Department of Public Safety, Housing and Residential Life, along with the Webster Groves Fire Department to evaluate egress and behavioral patterns. Reports are prepared by participating departments which identify deficient equipment so that repairs can be made immediately. Recommendations for improvements are also submitted to the appropriate departments/offices for consideration.

Students receive information about evacuation and shelter-in-place procedures during their first floor meetings and during other educational sessions that they can participate in throughout the year. The House Staff members are trained in these procedures as well and act as an on-going resource for the students living in residential facilities.

The Department of Public Safety conducts announced and unannounced drills and exercises each year and conducts follow-through activities designed for assessment and evaluation of emergency plans and capabilities.. The Department of Public Safety will publish a summary of its emergency response and evacuation procedures in conjunction with at least one drill or exercise each calendar year.

Shelter-in-Place Procedures--What it Means to "Shelter-in-Place"

If an incident occurs and the buildings or areas around you become unstable, or if the air outdoors becomes dangerous due to toxic or irritating substances, it is usually safer to stay indoors, because leaving the area may expose you to that danger. Thus, to "shelter-in-place" means to make a shelter of the building that you are in, and with a few adjustments this location can be made even safer and more comfortable until it is safe to go outside.

Basic "Shelter-in-Place" Guidance

If an incident occurs and the building you are in is not damaged, stay inside-seeking an interior room-until you are told it is safe to come out. If your building is damaged, take your personal belongings (purse, wallet, etc.) and follow the evacuation procedures for your building (close your door, proceed to the nearest exit, and use the stairs instead of the elevators). Once you have evacuated, seek shelter at the nearest University building quickly. If police or fire department personnel are on the scene, follow their directions.

How You Will Know to "Shelter-in-Place"

A shelter-in-place notification may come from several sources, including the Department of Public Safety, Housing Staff members, other University employees, or other authorities utilizing the University's emergency communications tools.

How to "Shelter-in-Place"

No matter where you are, the basic steps of shelter-in-place will generally remain the same. Should the need ever arise; follow these steps, unless instructed otherwise by local emergency personnel:

  1. If you are inside, stay where you are. Collect any emergency shelter-in-place supplies and a telephone to be used in case of emergency. If you are outdoors, proceed into the closest building quickly or follow instructions from emergency personnel on the scene
  2. Locate a room to shelter inside. It should be:
    • An interior room;
    • Above ground level; and
    • Without windows or with the least number of windows. If there is a large group of people inside a particular building, several rooms maybe necessary.
  3. Shut and lock all windows (tighter seal) and close exterior doors.
  4. Turn off air conditioners, heaters, and fans.
  5. Close vents to ventilation systems as you are able. (University staff will turn off ventilation as quickly as possible.)
  6. Make a list of the people with you and ask someone (Housing Staff, faculty, or other staff) to call the list in to the Department of Public Safety so they know where you are sheltering. If only students are present, one of the students should call in the list.
  7. Turn on a radio or TV and listen for further instructions.
  8. Make yourself comfortable.

Annual Fire Safety Report

If a fire occurs in a Webster University Building, community members should immediately notify the Department of Public Safety at 314-968-6911 or extension 6911 if using an IP Phone on campus. The Department of Public Safety will initiate a response, as the department has a direct dial phone line to the Webster Groves Fire Department and can summon the fire department quickly through this communication link. If a member of the Webster Community finds evidence of a fire that has been extinguished, and the person is not sure whether the Department of Public Safety has already responded, the community member should immediately notify Public Safety to investigate and document the incident.

The fire alarms alert community members of potential hazards and community members are required to heed their warning and evacuate buildings immediately upon hearing a fire alarm in a facility. Use the nearest stairwell and/or exit to leave the building immediately. Community members should familiarize themselves with the exits in each building. The Fire Marshall can levy fines and penalties to individuals who fail to evacuate a building promptly -- but a more important reason for evacuating is for safety reasons!

When a fire alarm is activated, the elevators in most buildings will stop automatically. Occupants should use the stairs to evacuate the building. If you are caught in the elevator, push the emergency phone button. The emergency phones in elevators on campus typically ring to the Department of Public Safety Dispatcher.

The Department of Public Safety publishes its fire safety in compliance with the Clery Act. The fire safety report is included within the Clery Crime Report. The fire safety report contains information with respect to the fire safety practices and standards for Webster University. This report includes statistics concerning the number of fires, the cause of each fire, the number of injuries and deaths related to a fire, and the value of the property damage caused by a fire. The compliance document is available for review 24 hours a day on the Department of Public Safety website or in hard copy form at the Department of Public Safety.

Fire Protection Equipment/Systems

A majority of University buildings are equipped with automatic fire detection and alarm systems which are constantly monitored by staff at the Department of Public Safety. Fire Safety Amenities in Webster University Residential Facilities can be found on the chart about fire detection, notification, and suppression systems in each residential facility located in the Annual Clery Crime and Fire Safety Report

Fire Safety Tips

Buildings are equipped with a variety of features that are designed to detect, stop and /or suppress the spread of a fire.

  • A door can be the first line of defense against the spread of smoke or fire from one area to another. Some doors, such as fire doors in corridors or stairwells of residence halls, are designed to stand up to fire longer than those of an individual room. It is important that these doors are CLOSED for them to work. Additionally, if a door has a device that automatically closes the door, it should NOT be propped open.
  • Sprinklers are 98% effective in preventing the spread of fire when operating properly. DO NOT obstruct the sprinkler heads with materials like clothing hanging from the piping.
  • Smoke detectors cannot do their job if they are disabled or covered by the occupant, which is a violation of University Policy.
  • Almost 3/4 of all fires that are caused by smoking material are the result of a cigarette being abandoned or disposed of carelessly. Smoking is NOT PERMITTED in any Webster University building.

A daily fire log is available for review 24 hours a day at the Department of Public Safety at 572 Garden Avenue. The information in the fire log typically includes information about fires that occur in residential facilities, including the nature, date, time, and general location.

Education of Members of the University Community

Campus security and fire safety procedures are discussed during new student orientation. The Department of Public Safety and the Dean of Students Office, including Housing Programs Department officials, participate in forums, and programs in residence halls to address students and explain University security, public safety, and fire safety measures and procedures at Webster University. Members of the Department of Public Safety conduct crime prevention and general security and safety awareness presentations when requested by various community groups, including students and employees of the University. During these presentations, the following information is typically provided: crime prevention tips; statistics on crime at Webster University; fire safety information; and information regarding campus security procedures and practices, including encouraging participants to be responsible for their own security/safety and for the security/safety for others on campus.

In addition, Webster University organizes and sets up a crime prevention and education display tables which are staffed by an officer(s) at various locations throughout the year.  During the year, the Department of Public Safety conducts several events and presentations on safety and emergency response and C.E.R.T training (Campus Emergency Response Team). Some members of the Department of Public Safety are certified to teach R.A.D. (Rape Aggression Defense) and conduct several courses per year. Students and staff can earn college credit by taking R.A.D courses. The Student Affairs office (Counseling, Res Life, Health Services and Advocate for Sexual Assault) conducts many programs including information on alcohol abuse, domestic violence, self defense, fire safety, emergency response and evacuation procedures, sexual assault prevention, and theft prevention.

Notification of Missing Students

If a member of the University community has reason to believe that a student who resides in on-campus housing is missing, he or she should immediately notify the Department of Public Safety at (314) 968-7430 or if using an IP Phone on campus, extension 7430. The Department of Public Safety will generate a missing person report and initiate an investigation.

After investigating the missing person report, should the Department of Public Safety determine that the student is missing and has been missing for more than 24 hours, Public Safety will notify the Webster Groves Police Department and the student's emergency contact no later than 24 hours after the student is determined to be missing. If the missing student is under the age of 18 and is not an emancipated individual, the Department of Public Safety and/or Webster Groves Police Department will notify the student's parent or legal guardian immediately after it has been determined that the student has been missing for more than 24 hours.

In addition to registering an emergency contact, students residing in on-campus housing have the option to identify confidentially an individual to be contacted by Webster University in the event the student is determined to be missing for more than 24 hours. If a student has identified such an individual, Webster University will notify that individual no later than 24 hours after the student is determined to be missing. A student who wishes to identify a confidential contact can do so through the Webster University Housing web site. A student's confidential contact information will be accessible only by authorized campus officials and law enforcement as appropriate.