A core group of Hillsdale College students meet every other week to train how to handle crisis. Hillsdale Emergency Action Response Team formed last fall after the college administration suggested the idea. The goal was to develop an emergency response team of Hillsdale College
students to respond to emergencies on the campus and immediate surrounding areas.
“It was kind of the brainchild after the Sandy Hook [shooting in Connecticut],” senior Kelly Tillotson, HEART team leader said. “We heard at an RA meeting that the school wanted to put
together an emergency response team to train students, who, in the event of an emergency, could step up to help security and get things back to normal on campus.”
The team meets every other week for CPR training, First Aid certification, drills, physical fitness exercises, and tabletop exercises, which work through potential situations and responses. The group currently rosters 50, but has a committed core of 15.
HEART will work closely with security in the event of an emergency, but the team also partners with local organizations such as the American Red Cross, Hillsdale Police Department, Hillsdale Fire Department, and the Hillsdale County Manager.
“We want to work with them,” Associate Dean of Men Jeffery Rogers said. “How can we assist them, because what if we are OK and the city isn’t? We want to help.”
HEART trains to address campus issues as well.
“If something were to happen where the services of the city and the county are exhausted, we have to fend for ourselves,” Rogers said. “It makes sense to have a cadre of wellequipped, wellorganized students that will know what to do and be able to assist.”
HEART especially attracts students for the leadership training and emergency response skills.
“They always say hope for the best prepare for the worst,” junior Markie Zimmer, secretary of HEART and premed student, said. “Even in medicine, being in difficult situations and working through those is a great thing, so why not get training for that,” Zimmer said. “These are always good skills to have, because you never know what situation you’re going to be in.”
Tillotson said she appreciates the leadership experience that HEART offers.
“We are not training kids to take down an active shooter. We are training students so that they can be leaders in the event of an emergency, so they have the knowledge, the background, and some practice so they can keep a level head in an emergency and lead other students,” Tillotson said. “We are trying to train people to be leaders by giving them this knowledge base and this network that they can work through.”
Rogers acknowledges that the team is a unique program.
“It’s unique because we are a group of people who are standing by to assist if needed –
hoping never to be needed, but if we are, then we are ready to do that,” Rogers said. “With that comes a lot of training and a lot of recruiting.”
HEART hopes to grow both in the community and on campus. The team is also applying to be recognized by Student Federation as an official campus club this semester. Rogers also hopes for a student representative in the community.
“We eventually want to have a HEART representative on the Hillsdale Emergency Response
Committee so that we have a student lending a voice to the community,” Rogers said. “What are we here for if we are just here to get an education and not make a difference in where we are at? This is a chance for students to lead.”