Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Sadness

Like so many others, I've spent much of my day wondering "why" and "how" something like the shooting rampage at Virginia Tech could have happened, and my mind and heart turns to the families of those affected. For each person who lost a life, there is a mother, father, aunt, cousin, best friend, spouse or child or even just a neighbor who adored the person. It's so sad, really, when there are so many people and you multiply that by those who will miss them. My thoughts and my heart are with them all.

Then there's the question of those two hours when 2 were already dead in the dorms, yet others were allowed to wander through their typical morning routine and schedule unknowing. I heard the response from officials that it was thought to be an isolated incident domestic in nature that was done and over already and that the suspect had likely left the campus and perhaps was leaving the state, but I don't understand that. I wasn't there, that's true, but common sense would say that a decent standard emergency response would be something different from this. Especially in this day and age of instant information. If a killer is on the loose, why not lock down right then? What's the worst that would happen if it turns out that the suspect had indeed left and was no longer a threat - so a few classes would be missed, but 30 more real people with real families and loved ones are more likely to live. Really, locking down right then, after a double murder, doesn't seem like such a stretch. You can always re-open things once the person is in custody or once it's more certain that there is no immediate danger. Sending warnings about the first shooting (no mention that 2 were dead) several minutes after 30 more were already dead in the second shooting and only then deciding to lock things down just doesn't make much sense. Maybe it's hard in the heat of the moment to make good decisions - I could see that - but that's why it's critical to have this kind of thing even as a general plan in mind in advance. No plan can address every possible situation, but this one seemed like a good candidate for even a simple plan to quickly (not 2 hours later) notify everyone and temporarily suspend normal schedules.

I'm still amazed at how quickly information travels because of the internet and blogging. Long before anyone official could provide much information, it was all right there online - sure, there are rumors and speculation (which then get dispelled) to sort through and eventually separate from fact, but it is still just amazing how instant the first hand accounts are posted and how students used this instant information to get info and stay connected. Let's use this amazing technology for good.

Until then, more information is sure to come out in the days to follow, and hopefully some reflection on how our schools, workplaces and other areas where we spend so much time can be made safer or better plans put into place in case those safety measures fail because this one makes me shake my head and wonder if the outcome could have been and would have been different - I think there's a good chance the answer is yes.

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