MSM Emergency Response Plan

“All Hazards” Safety Procedures

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Emergencies are unpredictable events that can arise from a variety of circumstances. Accordingly, when frequenting School buildings or venues, members of the Manhattan School of Music community must be prepared to take action during any emergency to protect their well-being.

Although emergencies can vary greatly in terms of the damage they cause, many of the safety procedures taken in response to the emergency remain consistent. The following section describes four safety procedures that School students, faculty, staff, and visitors can take to promote their safety in an emergency situation.

Some procedures will be appropriate for certain hazards; other hazards may require the use of more than one – or a combination of procedures. The incident-specific procedures described below indicate which of these procedures, or combination of procedures, is most appropriate to the circumstance. But choosing the proper procedures should be done in consideration of your circumstances at the time.


Evacuation means to exit a facility as directly and safely as possible. Evacuation is appropriate when conditions inside a structure pose a threat to the health and safety of building occupants, and leaving the facility is safer than remaining inside of it. Fire or unsafe conditions within a building are examples of situations in which evacuation may be necessary.

Evacuation should occur through the nearest exit but, depending on the circumstances, an alternate or secondary evacuation route may need to be used.

Strategies for an Effective Evacuation

The goal of evacuation is to leave the premises as quickly and safely as possible. The following strategies MAY promote an effective evacuation:

  • Exit the premises through the nearest marked exit (which may be an interior stairwell).
  • Evacuation should occur through the nearest exit but, depending on the circumstances, an alternate or secondary evacuation route may need to be used.
  • Exit immediately; do not return for personal items.
  • Leave the building; do not go to another floor or search for others within the building.
  • If possible, inform others of the evacuation.
  • If possible, help others evacuate.
  • Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow.
  • Prevent individuals from entering an area where the hazard might be.
  • DO NOT USE ELEVATORS unless directed to by law enforcement or School emergency personnel.

Notifying Building Occupants

The School notifies its community of an emergency using a combination of notification systems, including fire alarms, P.A. announcements, personal notifications, website postings, and electronic notifications. However, due to the fast-moving nature of the event, it may not be possible to notify building occupants in a timely manner. Therefore, evacuation may be prompted by signaling of fire alarms or notification from building coordinators, law enforcement, or other building occupants that are aware of the immediate danger.

If you feel your safety is jeopardized and evacuating is an appropriate strategy given your circumstances, you do not have to wait for an official notification to evacuate.

Staff/Faculty Procedures for Evacuation

After an emergency evacuation, the procedure for accountability of employees is as follows: when each staff supervisor or faculty member (or their designee) evacuates their area or classroom, they should make best efforts to bring with them a complete listing of their employees and students, including their work stations. If students or employees are not accounted for, they should make best efforts to report the identity and last known location of missing persons to emergency responders for search and rescue operations.

Employees from each department will report to their Supervisor upon evacuation. Students should report to their faculty member, if applicable. Or, they should report to either the Dean of Students or the Director of Residence Life.

Evacuation for Persons with Disabilities

During an event that requires evacuation, a person with disabilities may have the following evacuation options:

  • Horizontal evacuation (e.g., going from one building into a connected, adjacent building on the same level).
  • Vertical (e.g., stairway) evacuation (toward the ground floor of the building).
  • Proceeding to an Area of Rescue Assistance to await evacuation.
  • Staying in place to await evacuation (e.g., office, classroom, dormitory room).

Individuals with mobility impairments may not be able to exit a building without help from emergency response personnel. Persons who are unable to evacuate should await evacuation assistance in designated rescue locations, such as an Area of Rescue Assistance.

Safe Outside Assembly Locations

After evacuating, you should report to a pre-designated assembly area outside the building and wait for further instructions. Assembly areas are designated safe locations away from buildings or the hazardous location, where emergency officials can debrief regarding the incident.

MSM has one pre-selected site off-campus where community members are to meet:

  • The main auditorium of the Riverside Church
  • If Riverside Church is unavailable, then proceed to Grant’s Tomb

If reporting to the assembly area is not safe or feasible, contact your supervisors, campus security, or resident assistants to inform them of your safety and location.


It is important to be aware of the nearest exits and building emergency evacuation routes prior to an emergency. Employees and students should take note of primary and secondary building evacuation routes before an event occurs, so that you will be equipped to act fast and ensure your safety.

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“Lockdown” and “Lockout”

“Lockdown” is a temporary sheltering technique used to limit exposure of building occupants to an imminent hazard or threat. When “locking down,” building occupants will shelter inside a room and prevent access from the outside. “Lockout” is a variation, in which a hazard is known to be outside the building and access into a building is blocked by locking outside doors.

Lockdown and lockout are safety techniques typically used only in a sudden, extreme emergency involving a serious physical threat to building occupants, such as from an armed threat. They may also be used for protection from a dangerous emergency circumstance (such as a suspected explosive or chemical spill, where evacuation is not advisable).

Strategies for Effective Lockdown

No room can be made to be 100% inaccessible from an outside entrance, but below are a few strategies that can make a room more feasible for a lockdown:

  • Choose a strong room with a sturdy lock, such as that in the locker room on the first floor of the Main Building (an Area of Rescue Assistance).
  • If possible, avoid locking down in a room with glass windows or door panes.
  • Note which way the door opens. A room with a door that opens outward offers greater protection, so find one if you are able to do so.
  • In addition to locking the door, fortify the entrance, if possible, with heavy items such as furniture.
  • If possible, avoid limiting your escape routes.
  • Stay low and hide behind large items that may provide full or partial cover.
  • Be out of view of the hazard (stay away from glass windows or doors).
  • Turn cell phones on SILENT (not “vibrate” because a vibrating phone is still audible).
  • Turn off room lights.
  • Turn off ALL items that may cause noise, such as TVs, radio, or web browsers.

Notifying Building Occupants

If possible, the School will notify its community of an emergency using a combination of P.A. announcements, electronic notifications, sirens, personnel, law enforcement, social media, news outlets, or any other available communication method. Situations requiring lockdown, however, are typically fast-moving and sudden, so it may not be possible for the School to notify building occupants in a timely manner. The emergency may be prompted by signaling of fire alarms, activation of sprinkler systems, or notification from building coordinators, law enforcement, campus security, or other building occupants of an immediate danger.

“Lockout” or Restricted Access versus “Lockdown”

“Lockout” or restricting access to a building is different from a “lockdown” – a lockout involves ensuring that all entrances into a particular building or facility are inaccessible. The intent of lockout is to prevent an outside threat from entering a secure facility. When lockout procedures are activated, it is not necessary for internal doors to be locked and fortified – only external entrance ways need be locked.

“Lockout” and “Lockdown” in the Context of an Active Shooter Threat

Please consult the Active Shooter/Armed Threat Policies for how to react in the event of a lockdown or lockout scenario due to an active shooter on or around MSM’s campus.

Notifying Law Enforcement – Call 911 when you are safe to do so

If an event warrants locking down, notify law enforcement as soon as possible, but only if it is safe for you to do so. Call 911 or alert Campus Safety by dialing 917-493-4444.

Interacting with Law Enforcement

When law enforcement arrives on the scene in a circumstance involving suspected armed intruders or violent threat, their primary goal will be to neutralize the threat, not to assist injured victims. Victims will be treated when feasible by emergency medical personnel.

Law enforcement arriving on the scene will have limited information as to the location of the threat or the identity or description of any armed offender(s). Accordingly, when you interact with law enforcement, you must:

  • Remain calm and follow all officers’ instructions.
  • Put down any items in your hands (e.g., bags, jackets).
  • Immediately raise your hands and spread your fingers.
  • Keep your hands visible at all times.
  • Avoid making quick movements toward the officers, such as grabbing onto them for safety.
  • Avoid pointing, screaming, or yelling.
  • Not stop to ask officers for help or directions when evacuating – just proceed in the direction from which officers are entering the premises with hands visible.

Providing Information to Law Enforcement

You may be in the position to provide information to law enforcement, either during a lockdown or after you have evacuated to safety. Information to be provided, to the extent known, to law enforcement as soon as possible in an armed intruder situation include(s):

  • your specific location
  • building name, floor, and room number of incident
  • the number of persons sheltering at your location
  • injuries and victims, if any
  • the offender’s location
  • the number of offenders
  • physical description of offenders(s)

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“Shelter-in-Place” means to take immediate shelter where you are – at home, work, or school. When you are sheltering in place, the facility or structure where you are located will provide protection from elements outside (debris, chemical release, severe weather conditions etc.). A multitude of hazards can require sheltering in place; but, in general, sheltering-in-place is appropriate when conditions outside are unsafe and a higher degree of protection is available inside than through an evacuation.

A tornado or extreme wind event are two examples of an emergency that can require sheltering-in-place.

Strategies for Effective Sheltering-in-Place

To shelter-in-place effectively, you must first consider the hazard and then choose a safe place in the building to shelter. For example, in a tornado, a room should be selected that is in a basement or interior of the building. For a flood, you would move higher in the building. The following bullet points are general recommendations that may increase the effectiveness of sheltering-in-place:

  • Shelter in an area that will shield you from the particular hazard.
  • A proper shelter area will vary based upon the hazard. In general, however, you should choose an area away from windows and glass, with no vents, and away from room corners where debris can accumulate.
  • Large windowless storage closets, utility rooms, pantries, break rooms, and copy and conference rooms work well as shelter areas.
  • For suspected chemical releases, in some instances it is better to shelter in a room above ground level, because some chemicals are heavier than air and may seep below ground. In this unlikely situation, you will be instructed by law enforcement or Campus Safety about where to shelter.
  • When sheltering-in-place, crouch down along the wall and protect your head with your hands, if necessary.
  • Stay away from all windows and doors and, if possible, move to an interior corridor.
  • Stay away from lobbies, walkways, atriums, and other large, glassed-in areas.
  • Additionally, stay away from large, open areas with a long roof span.
  • If possible, take a cell phone, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration public alert radio, and flashlight into any such location.
  • If you are outside, seek shelter in the nearest building.
  • Time permitting, close and lock external facing doors and windows and close curtains, blinds, or shades.
  • Consider that a shelter-in-place event can last minutes to hours. In choosing a shelter, be cognizant of seating areas and of access to restrooms.

How Long to Remain, and What to Do Next

  • Remain in sheltered area until given the “all clear” by School officials or by City emergency sirens. Radio and TV stations, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Public Alert Radios, and electronic communications may, depending upon the situation, also be used to signal that an “all clear” has been given.
  • When given the “all clear,” you should open windows and doors, turn on HVAC and ventilation systems, and, if necessary and safe to do so, go outside until the building’s air has been exchanged with now clear outdoor air.
  • After an “all clear” has been given, building occupants should contact supervisors or Resident Assistants to inform them of their safety and location.

Notification of Building Occupants

If possible, the School will notify its community of an emergency requiring shelter-in-place using P.A. systems, electronic notifications, social media, or website postings. Depending upon the circumstances, civil authorities, law enforcement, or news organizations may also provide notice. However, due to the fast-moving nature of the event, it may not be possible to notify building occupants in a timely manner using these electronic means of communication. Therefore, the need to shelter-in-place may be prompted by notification from building coordinators, campus security, law enforcement, or other building occupants that are aware of the immediate danger.

Shelter-in-Place for Individuals with Disabilities

Individuals with mobility impairments have the option of sheltering within an Area of Rescue Assistance. For additional information about how individuals with disabilities should protect themselves in an emergency, go to Emergency Information for Individuals with Disabilities

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Social Distancing

“Social distancing” is a public health safety intervention used to reduce the likelihood of transmitting communicable disease. Social distancing involves minimizing exposure to infected individuals by avoiding large public gathering venues, adhering to spacing requirements in the workplace, and following proper personal hygiene practices.

Social distancing is typically employed upon recommendation of public health officials during an epidemic or outbreak of communicable disease. It will usually be initiated only after discussions with public health officials, medical personnel, and civil authorities.

Strategies for Effective Social Distancing

The goal of social distancing is to limit exposure to infectious bacteria and viruses during a communicable disease outbreak. The following strategies may be useful in conducting social distancing:

  • Adhere to public health hygienic recommendations by washing your hands after touching commonly used items or coming into contact with someone who is sick.
  • Proper hand washing involves scrubbing hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
  • Avoid touching your face, nose, and mouth and avoid rubbing your eyes.
  • Practice proper coughing or sneezing etiquette.
  • Properly dispose of anything that comes into contact with your mouth such as tissues or plastic eating utensils.
  • Avoid coming in contact with individuals displaying symptoms of illness.
  • If working in close proximity to other individuals, attempt to keep a distance of approximately three feet from the nearest person while working.
  • Avoid congregating in large public venues such as theaters or sporting events.

Notifying the Campus

A social distancing protocol will most likely be communicated through electronic notifications, website postings, and communications by School administrators, civil authorities, and public health authorities.

Medical Countermeasures

Consult with a physician for recommendations on obtaining medical prophylaxis such as antibiotics or vaccine.

Closures or Cancellation of Performances or Venues

One strategy used for social distancing is to close venues or cancel events where large amounts of people may congregate. For information on closings of venues, cancellation of performances or public events, or other social distancing measures at the School, refer to the School’s website. Individuals should also consult public health entities’ websites for closings of any public or private venues in the area. Human Relations or Student Life may also assist with questions about telecommuting or other social distancing strategies.

Personal Protective Equipment

Recommendations for wearing personal protective equipment such as gloves or masks will be issued by public health authorities. If used correctly, such equipment may limit some exposures. They should not, however, take the place of other preventive interventions such as proper hygiene practices.

Immunocompromised Individuals

Individuals with compromised immune systems are encouraged to consult with their personal physicians to assess the safety of the workplace, classroom, or residence halls during an event that warrants social distancing. In the case of a student becoming immunocompromised, that person will be encouraged to remain in isolation in his or her dorm room until a sound medical plan can be established.

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