Take a class on how to react and stay safe

Given the mail traffic that flows daily through campus and the public concern about anthrax, Penn is holding sessions on how to recognize and respond to suspicious deliveries.

The Division of Public Safety will hold the training sessions, open to all members of the Penn community, Oct. 25 and 26 at the Harold Prince Theatre at the Annenberg Center. The one-hour sessions will be held each day at 9 a.m. and noon.

The sessions, which will address bomb threats and questionable packages, will be led by experts from Penn’s Public Safety Division and Department of Environmental Health and Radiation Safety. A health professional from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania will also be on hand.

Gary Heller, University policy accreditation manager, said the training sessions are a part of Penn’s “preparatory standpoint.” “In the unlikely event that something should happen, you would rather have people who are knowledgeable, who are prepared,” said Heller.

And Heller doesn’t think the training sessions will cause a “backlash” or increase panic on campus. He said that during the days of the Unabomber scare, Penn also held such training sessions, and these worked out well and helped keep Penn members informed. He said Penn members appreciated having the know-how.

Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said at times like these, information is key. “I believe that people have been inundated with information, and we want to be sure that our community is equipped with accurate information that will ensure their safety should they be confronted with a suspicious letter or package,” she said.

Rush said that the measures taken by the administration and Division of Public Safety are consistent with Penn’s efforts to guard the emotional and physical well being of its members.

On-line information is at www.upenn.edu/emergencyinfosite and www.upenn.edu/police. Community members may also call the University’s emergency information line at 215-898-MELT.

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Originally published on October 25, 2001