Emergency Response Plan

In the event of an emergency, do you know what to do?


  • Viterbo University community members should follow instructions and guidance outlined in the official Emergency Response Plan (View this page for a list of locations by building that have hard copies of the emergency response plan available). 
  • Whenever possible, get to a safe space before making a call or taking action. 
  • When in doubt, always call 911.
Basic Response to any Emergency, Including a Medical Emergency
  1. In the event of any emergency, it is important to call one of the following numbers. A call to any of these numbers will activate a response from the appropriate emergency response operation(s):
    1. La Crosse Police Department: 911
    2. La Crosse Fire Department: 911
    3. Viterbo campus safety: 3911 from a Viterbo phone; 608-796-3911 from a non-Viterbo phone
  2. Answer the dispatcher’s questions as they are asked, especially the location of the emergency, including the street address of the building. Be as specific as possible.
  3. Provide a thorough description of the incident to ensure that proper resources are dispatched. Do not hang up until the dispatcher tells you to do so.
  4. Those trained to perform CPR and first aid can act within their expertise. Those who are not trained may receive instruction on how to do CPR from the dispatcher.
  5. Have someone stand outside the building to flag down emergency personnel when they arrive.
  6. Once any injured have been treated and/or transported, follow applicable employee/student accident reporting.
Active Shooter, Firearms, or Weapons

Active threat exists when an individual or individuals are actively engaged in harming or killing people, or attempting to harm or kill people, in a confined and populated area.  If an active threat occurs:

  1. Call 911 as soon as you are able if you are aware of any firearm or other weapon on campus.
  2. Call campus safety at 3911 if using a Viterbo phone; 608-796-3911 or 608-780-1582 if using a non-Viterbo phone.
  3. If you see, hear, or are notified of an active threat/shooter on campus:
    1. RUN
      1. Get out of the building if you are able to. If you see the active threat/shooter, run in the opposite direction.
      2. Provide assistance to those with disabilities/special needs. If that is not possible, provide their location to emergency personnel.
      3. Call 911. If possible, give the location of the incident, the type of weapon being used, and a physical description of the active threat/shooter.
      4. Prevent others from entering the building.
    2. HIDE
      1. If you can’t get out of the building, get behind a closed and locked door. Barricade the door.
      2. Close window blinds/curtains. Turn off lights, radio, computers, etc. Silence phones and electronic devices.
      3. Hide in a closet, under a desk, behind furniture, etc.
    3. FIGHT
      1. Do this as a last resort, only if you have no other option.
      2. Act as aggressively as possible. Yell, throw things, use improvised weapons, and attempt to stop the active threat/shooter by any means available.
Alcohol or Drug Intoxication or Overdose
  1. If you are concerned about a person’s safety following the consumption and/or ingestion of alcohol or drugs, call 911 and/or take the person to a hospital emergency room.
  2. Call campus safety at 3911 if using a Viterbo phone; 608-796-3911 or 608-780-1582 if using a non-Viterbo phone.
  3. Turn the person on their left side. Don’t leave them unattended to “sleep it off.”
  4. Walk or drive an intoxicated person(s) home. Make certain they are safe INSIDE once home. Do not let an intoxicated person go outside alone; do not leave an intoxicated person alone outside.
  5. In cases of drug or alcohol overdose, the primary concern of the university is the person’s safety, not punishment or prosecution.
Armed Robbery or Burglary
  1. Remain calm. Most robbers do not wish to harm; they are only interested in money or property. When you are calm, you reduce the risk of the robber becoming agitated or dangerous. You are also more likely to get an accurate description. Make no sudden moves and don’t try to be heroic.
  2. Quickly give the robber exactly what they want. Don’t take unnecessary chances with your life.
  3. Do not argue, fight, surprise, or attempt to use weapons against a robber. The robber has already taken a major risk and is frightened. Additional provocation on your part could make the situation worse.
  4. Note as many details as possible until you can write them down. Glance at the weapon long enough to identify it. Then, look at the robber and get height, weight, hair color, eye color, and clothing. Notice the type and description of any weapons used. If a vehicle is involved, get the license plate number, color, make, and model if possible.
  5. When you are in a safe place, call 911.
  6. Call campus safety at 3911 if using a Viterbo phone; 608-796-3911 if using a non-Viterbo phone.
Bomb Threat, Suspicious Package or Device
  1. If you receive a bomb threat by phone, try to keep the caller on the phone.
    1. If possible, write a note to have someone call 911 from another phone.
    2. Do not hang up. Further instructions may be given.
    3. Remain calm and courteous.
    4. Record and report the caller ID information provided, the caller’s exact words, and the time of the call.
    5. Ask and record the answers to questions:
      1. When will the bomb explode?
      2. Where is it right now?
      3. What type of bomb is it and what does it look like?
      4. What will cause the bomb to explode?
      5. Did you place the bomb and why?
      6. What is your address?
      7. What is your name?
      8. Write the exact wording of threats.
  2. If you receive a bomb threat in written form, call 911 and be prepared to tell police about location of bomb and when it will explode. Do not hang up; further instructions may be given.
  3. Call campus safety at 3911 if using a Viterbo phone; 608-796-3911 if using a non-Viterbo phone.
  4. If you see a suspicious package or suspicious device, do not touch it, tamper with it, or move it. Call 911 immediately. Next call campus safety at 3911 if using a Viterbo phone; 608-796-3911 if using a non-Viterbo phone.
  5. Evacuate the building using areas and exits that are NOT near the device. When evacuating, leave everything as is. Leave room doors unlocked.
  6. Tips for identifying suspicious packages or devices:
    1. excessive postage, handwritten or poorly typed address
    2. excessive weight
    3. foreign mail, air mail, or special deliveries
    4. incorrect titles
    5. no return address
    6. oily stains or discoloration on package
    7. protruding wires or tinfoil
    8. restrictive markings such as “Confidential” or “Personal”
    9. rigid, lopsided, or uneven envelope
    10. visual distractions
    11. excessive tape or string
Cyberstalking or Stalking
  1. Definition: engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety, or the safety of others, or suffer emotional distress.
  2. Call 911 if in immediate danger.
  3. Call campus safety at 3911 if using a Viterbo phone; 608-796-3911 if using a non-Viterbo phone.
  4. Report this information:
    1. Your specific location
    2. The name of the stalker, if known
    3. Physical description of the stalker, including a description of their clothing
    4. Stalker’s license plate number, if known
    5. Stalker’s address and phone number, if known
    6. Save any phone, digital, electronic, or other messages sent by the stalker.
Dating, Domestic, or Relationship Violence
  1. Call 911 and report the incident. Write down the police report/incident number and keep with your records.
  2. If necessary, seek medical attention. Have injuries documented and photographed.
  3. Go to a safe place such as a friend or family member’s home or a domestic violence shelter.
  4. Seek the support of caring people. Tell someone you trust about the abuse—a friend, a family member, a neighbor, a co-worker, or staff members of support agencies. Talk to them in a private, safe place.
  5. Talk with a professional at one of these or another support agency: Viterbo counseling services, Viterbo health services, Mayo Franciscan Healthcare Safe Path Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Services, or Gundersen Health System Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault Services. These services offer confidential help.
  6. Have a safety plan. If your friend, spouse, or partner is abusive, have a plan to protect yourself and/or your children in case you need to leave quickly.
  7. File for a protective order that tells the offender to stay away from you.
Fight or Physical Assault
  1. Call 911. Calmly provide address, location, and whether weapons are involved.
  2. Call campus safety at 3911 if using a Viterbo phone; 608-796-3911 if using a non-Viterbo phone
  3. Do not become involved in the situation.
Fire, Smoke, or Explosions
  1. Activate the nearest fire alarm (if not sounding).
  2. Call 911 and calmly provide your name, the building address, and location of fire, smoke, or explosion.
  3. Call campus safety at 3911 if using a Viterbo phone; 608-796-3911 if using a non-Viterbo phone.
  4. Assist persons with disabilities/special needs and/or provide their location to emergency responders. Notify fire personnel if you know someone is trapped.
  5. Immediately exit the building, closing doors behind you. Do not use elevators and keep fire doors closed.
  6. If caught in smoke, drop to your knees and crawl to the closest safe exit. Breathe through your nose. Cover it with a towel or shirt if possible.
  7. Upon exiting the building proceed to its designated outdoor rally point.
  8. If trapped in a building, close all windows and doors. Place wet or dry cloth material under door to prevent smoke from entering. Attempt to signal people outside the building. Call 911 to notify responders of your location.
  9. Never reenter a building until an “all clear” signal is given by authorized emergency personnel.
Flooding or Plumbing Failure
  1. Cease using all electrical equipment.
  2. During normal business hours, call the Physical Plant 608-796-3920.
  3. Outside of normal business hours, call campus safety at 3911 if using a Viterbo phone; 608-796-3911 if using a non-Viterbo phone.
  4. If evacuation is ordered, follow the evacuation procedures.
Harassment: Phone, Digital, or Electronic
  1. Call campus safety at 3911 if using a Viterbo phone; 608-796-3911 if using a non-Viterbo phone.
  2. Call La Crosse Police Department non-emergency dispatch at 608-785-5962.
  3. Report harassment to internet service provider and/or cell phone service provider.
  4. Block messages from sender.
  5. If you receive a threat by phone or an obscene phone call, try to keep the caller on the phone and:
    1. check for caller ID information.
    2. be calm and courteous, listen, and do not interrupt.
    3. write down caller’s exact words and the time of the call.
  6. Save any harassing messages.
Hazardous Materials, Spills, Leaks, or Fumes
  1. Call 911 and calmly state your name, type of emergency, the building address, and exact location of the spill, leak, or fumes.
  2. Call campus safety at 3911 if using a Viterbo phone; 608-796-3911 if using a non-Viterbo phone.
  3. Contact physical plant at 608-769-3402.
  4. If someone is splashed with a chemical, immediately flush the contaminated area with water and obtain medical assistance.
  5. For major hazardous material spills, immediately evacuate the building, closing doors behind you.
  6. In the event of hazardous material leaks or fumes, immediately evacuate the building, closing doors behind you.
  7. For minor hazardous material spills, follow departmental protocol where appropriate (i.e. Reinhart Center) or contact physical plant staff at 608-796-3920.
  8. Do not attempt to clean up the spill yourself. Provide clean-up/rescue personnel with appropriate material safety data sheets and other pertinent information.
  9. Only trained and authorized personnel are permitted to respond to hazardous material incidents.
Intruder or Hostage Taker
  1. If you are aware of a hostage situation, call 911 immediately. Provide information on individual’s features, clothing, and vehicle, building and location, and whether they are carrying a weapon or package, etc.
  2. Call campus safety at 3911 if using a Viterbo phone; 608-796-3911 if using a non-Viterbo phone.
  3. If you are taken hostage, follow the instructions of the hostage taker. Remain calm. Treat the hostage taker with respect. Ask permission to speak, do not argue or make suggestions.
  4. Suspicious or questionable persons should be reported to the La Crosse Police Department at 911 or campus safety at 3911 if using a Viterbo phone; 608-796-3911 if using a non-Viterbo phone.
Medical Emergency
  1. Call 911 if necessary.
    1. Be prepared to provide this information:
      1. Where is the emergency?
      2. What happened?
      3. What is the condition of affected person(s)?
      4. What is currently being done?
      5. Are there any dangerous conditions nearby?
  2. Call campus safety at 3911 if using a Viterbo phone; 608-796-3911 if using a non-Viterbo phone.
  3. Perform first aid and/or CPR as needed, to your level of training.
  4. Tell someone to stand outside the building and flag down emergency personnel as they arrive.
  5. Once any injured have been treated and transported, contact Human Resources at humanresources@viterbo.edu to file a report and/or provide necessary documentation.
Mental Health Emergency or Attempted Suicide
  1. All suicide attempts should be reported to 911 immediately.
  2. If the individual is aggressive, violent, or harmful to self or others, call 911. Do not attempt to handle the situation alone.
  3. Call campus safety at 3911 if using a Viterbo phone; 608-796-3911 if using a non-Viterbo phone.
  4. A psychological crisis may exist when an individual is delusional, out of touch with reality, or threatening harm to self or others. The crisis may be manifested as paranoia, disruptive behavior, anger, yelling, or self-injury. When encountering such situations, one should:
    1. stay calm and stay with the person (if safe to do so) until professional help arrives.
    2. listen carefully and considerately.
    3. do not argue with the person. Avoid aggravating the situation.
    4. encourage counseling, support from friends and family, seeking assistance with life goals, and/or seeking assistance with finances and housing.
Missing Student
  1. If you are aware of an abduction, call 911 immediately.
    1. Be prepared to provide police with number, description, demands, and instructions of abductor(s); name(s) of person(s) abducted.
    2. If a vehicle is involved, attempt to obtain license plate number, make, model, direction of travel, etc.
  2. Call campus safety with information on abduction or missing student at 3911 if using a Viterbo phone; 608-796-3911 if using a non-Viterbo phone.
  3. If you are abducted, follow the instructions of the abductor. Remain calm. Treat the abductor with respect. Ask permission to speak, do not argue or make suggestions.
  4. Viterbo will notify law enforcement and emergency contact if a student living on campus has been missing for 24 hours.
  5. Viterbo will notify custodial parent or legal guardian if a student under the age of 18 and living on campus has been missing for 24 hours.
Power Outage
  1. Call campus safety at 3911 if using a Viterbo phone; 608-796-3911 if using a non-Viterbo phone.
  2. Campus safety will contact physical plant to determine next steps.
  3. Campus safety or designee will send RAVE messaging to the campus community announcing loss of power and any additional information while awaiting power restoration.
  4. Community members are to follow instructions of campus safety, physical plant, or other emergency personnel. This could include a recommendation that everyone either remains in place or evacuates space.
  5. The timeframe to restore power may not immediately be available.
  6. Power outages could affect building systems; lighting, heating, cooling, hot water, security, computers, phones, and food services.

  7. Back-up natural gas generators will provide power to run emergency lighting in hallways and stairwells in Reinhart Center, School of Nursing, Fine Arts Center, Brophy Center, Murphy Center, and Bonaventure Hall.
  8. Bonaventure Hall generator will keep kitchen equipment, freezer, coolers, ice machine, and heating equipment for Bonaventure Hall and the Student Union running.
Riot, Unruly Event, or Civil Disturbance
  1. Call 911. Provide the address, location, and other details to the dispatcher.
  2. Call campus safety at 3911 if using a Viterbo phone; 608-796-3911 if using a non-Viterbo phone.
  3. Do not become involved in the situation.
  4. In the event of a civil disturbance, Viterbo administration may cancel or delay classes/activities; remove, contain, or isolate disruptive persons; request police intervention; lock buildings for safety, etc.
Sexual Assault
  1. Get to a safe place whenever possible.
  2. Get medical care (if needed). If you are physically injured, medical care is vital. You can get medical care at any hospital emergency room. If you are 18 years or older, you can get treatment for your immediate injuries without filing a police report.
  3. To get support and assistance with the assault process, you should consider calling as soon as possible one of these 24 hour services: Mayo Safe Path Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault Services, 608-392-7804 or 1-800-362-5454, extension 7804; Mayo Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Program, 608-392-7804 or 1-800-362-5454, extension 7804; or Gundersen Sexual Assault Services Crisis Line, 608-775-5950 or 1-800-362-9567, extension 55950.
  4. Tell someone you can trust: a counselor, a friend, a relative, a medical provider, a minister, the police, an RA, or a residence life area coordinator. Note: all Viterbo personnel with the exception of the chaplain and counseling services staff are mandatory reporters and will need to report incidents of sexual misconduct.
  5. If you intend to report the assault, or leave this option open in the future, physical specimens collected soon after the assault/rape will be valuable evidence. Do not shower, bathe, wash your hands, eat, drink, or brush your teeth. Place each item of clothing in a separate paper bag (no plastic). Leave the area where the assault occurred undisturbed.
  6. You make the decision when and how to utilize law enforcement. However, the longer you wait to report the assault, the greater the likelihood that valuable evidence (e.g., DNA, collaborative interviews from witnesses) may be lost. Evidence collection is done in the county where the assault occurred, usually within the first 72 hours following the assault (the earlier, the better). You have three ways to contact law enforcement:
    1. Call 911 if an emergency, or if not emergent, call the police department dispatch where the crime occurred.
    2. Go to the police station in the jurisdiction where the assault occurred to file a police report.
    3. If you go to the hospital, ask that they notify the police.
Weather Emergencies
  1. If you hear thunder, you are close enough to the thunderstorm to be struck by lightning.
    1. Immediately go to safe shelter—a sturdy building or automobile.
    2. Do not take shelter in small sheds or under trees.
  2. Telephone lines and metal pipes can conduct electricity from lightning.
    1. Unplug appliances not necessary for weather information.
    2. Avoid using landline telephones or electrical appliances.
    3. Avoid bathing, showering, or being in contact with plumbing fixtures.
  3. A severe thunderstorm/tornado watch means atmospheric conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms/tornadoes. You should continue with normal activities, but closely monitor weather information.
  4. A severe thunderstorm/tornado warning means severe thunderstorm activity is occurring (indicated by radar or reported by law enforcement and/or weather spotters) or is imminent. If the warning is for your location, you should quickly move to a place of safety.
  5. When severe thunderstorm/tornado warnings are issued, you should seek immediate shelter away from windows, preferably in interior hallways on the lowest floor possible. If outdoors, move immediately to the nearest building and seek shelter there.
  6. Do not open windows.
  7. Do not use elevators.
  8. If unable to get inside, lie in a ditch area or near a well-built building, use arms to protect head and neck in a “drop and tuck” position, use jacket/cap/backpack/etc., to protect face and eyes.
  9. Report any injuries or damage by calling campus safety at 3911 if using a Viterbo phone; 608-796-3911 if using a non-Viterbo phone.
  10. DO NOT call 911 unless you need to report an emergency, such as a fire, medical emergency, or severe building damage. The 911 lines need to be kept open and available for emergency calls. If you accidentally call 911, do not hang up—remain on the line until someone picks up and let them know of the accidental dial.
Evacuation, Lockdown, and Shelter-in-place Procedures

Evacuation Procedures

  1. Begin evacuation immediately upon hearing alarm or official announcement.
  2. If time permits close window(s).
  3. Using the nearest exit, proceed to the ground level and leave the building. If the nearest exist is compromised, use a secondary evacuation route.
  4. Do not use an elevator.
  5. Leave the building in an orderly manner and go to the building’s designated outdoor rally point.
  6. Follow instructions from emergency personnel. Report the location of anyone still inside the building to them.
  7. Do not reenter the building until the all clear is given by emergency personnel.

Evacuating Persons with Disabilities or Special Needs

  1. Assisting the blind/visually impaired
    1. Clearly announce the type of emergency.
    2. Offer your arm to, or hold the person’s hand, to help guide them.
    3. Tell the person where you are going and alert them to obstacles along the way.
  2. Assisting the deaf/hearing impaired
    1. Get the person’s attention.
    2. Indicate directions with gestures or a written note.
  3. Assisting the mobility impaired
    1. Elevators should not be used.
    2. Inform the person of the situation and ask how you can help.
    3. Evacuate the person according to their instructions.
    4. If it is not possible to evacuate the person, assist in moving them to as safe an area as possible (an interior room or enclosed stairwell).
    5. Advise emergency personnel of the person’s location once you have exited the building.

Lockdown Procedures

  1. A lockdown is a way to rapidly enhance the level of security in a building. Locking exterior and interior doors can make it more difficult for an intruder or other type of threat to access students and employees.
  2. When a lockdown occurs, Viterbo University is required by law to initiate emergency notification via one or more of the following methods: email message, phone call, text message, Viterbo website and social media accounts, display monitor message, public address system.
  3. When a lockdown occurs you should:
    1. immediately go into the nearest room you feel is safe. Quickly encourage others to join you.
    2. lock and barricade the door.
    3. turn off all lights.
    4. cover all windows with blinds, curtains, etc.
    5. remain silent, silence cellphones, and turn off radios, televisions, and other devices that emit sounds.
    6. keep away from windows and doors.
    7. hide/conceal yourself the best you can.
    8. stay in the room until the all clear is given by emergency personnel or until the police instruct you to exit.
    9. If the fire alarm sounds DO NOT exit your safe area as it may be a ploy by an armed/hostile intruder. Remain locked down unless there is smoke and/or fire in your location.
  4. If someone is injured, follow these steps when it is safe to do so:
    1. Call 911.
    2. Call campus safety at 3911 if using a Viterbo phone; 608-796-3911 if using a non-Viterbo phone.
    3. Place a sign in an exterior window to identify the location of injured people.

Shelter-in-place Procedures

  1. Defined: shelter-in-place is the use of any classroom, office, or building to provide temporary shelter. To shelter-in-place:
    1. Move indoors and remain there. Pick a room with the fewest number of windows, vents. etc.
    2. If possible, take a smartphone, computer, radio, or television with you to monitor the emergency.
    3. Do not call 911 for information; keep phone lines open for emergency personnel.
  2. To shelter-in-place during a severe thunderstorm, tornado, or related warning:
    1. Go to the lowest level of the building.
    2. Go to an interior room or hallway and stay away from windows.
    3. Use arms to protect head and neck in a “drop and tuck” position.
    4. If unable to get inside, lie in a ditch area or near a strong building. Use what you have available to protect your head, neck, face, and eyes (arms, jacket, backpack).
  3. To shelter-in-place for hazardous materials:
    1. Select room(s) that is easy to seal, and does not contain mechanical equipment like vents, blowers, or pipes.
    2. If possible, pick a space with a water supply and access to restrooms.
    3. Remain sheltered-in-place until the all clear is given by emergency personnel.
  4. To shelter in place for incidents and situations. Examples: dangerous incident in the surrounding neighborhood; dangerous incident at a nearby school; any situation where keeping students and employees inside is the safest alternative:
    1. Move indoors and remain there. In most cases, maintain normal indoor activities.
    2. Follow instructions of authorities.
    3. See campus website, campus email, and/or local media.
    4. Remain indoors until emergency personnel give the all clear.
Warning and Notification

Any one or more of these methods of communication may be used for warning and/or notification in the event of an emergency:

  • audio broadcast on most Viterbo main campus speaker phones
  • bullhorns
  • display message on most Viterbo main campus phones
  • display screen monitors
  • email using Viterbo email addresses
  • flyers/posters
  • public address system
  • text message
  • Viterbo website and/or Viterbo campus safety website

Viterbo students and employees are responsible for maintaining updated emergency contact and phone information on VitNet.