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Hostage Crisis

If you witness or become involved in a hostage situation:

  1. Immediately remove yourself from any danger.
  2. Notify Vanderbilt University Police Department at 911 or 421-1911.
  3. Tell them
    1. Your name and location
    2. Location of incident
    3. Number of possible hostage takers.
    4. Physical description and names of hostage takers, if possible.
    5. Number of possible hostages
    6. Types of weapons and threats.

If you are taken hostage:

  1. Remain calm, be polite and cooperate with your captors.
  2. Be patient and avoid drastic actions.  Time is on your side.
  3. Do not speak unless spoken to, and then only when necessary.
  4. Do not talk down to the captor, as he or she may be agitated.
  5. Avoid appearing hostile.
  6. Maintain eye contact with the captor, but do not stare.
  7. Comply with instructions as best as you can.
  8. DO NOT draw attention to yourself with sudden body movements, statements, comments, or by looking hostile.
  9. Be observant, as you may be released or escape, and the safety of others may depend on your memory.  Observe the captors and try to memorize their physical traits, voice patterns, clothing or other details that would help you to describe them.
  10. DO NOT attempt escape unless there is an extremely good chance of survival.  It is safer to be submissive and obey your captors.
  11. If forced to present terrorist demands to authorities, either in writing on on a tape, state clearly that the demands are from your captors.  Avoid making a plea on your own behalf.
  12. Try to stay low to the ground or behind cover from windows or doors, if possible.

In a rescue situation:

  1. DO NOT RUN. Drop to the floor and remain still. It that is not possible, cross your arms, bow your head, and stand still. Make no sudden moves that a tense rescuer may interpret as hostile or threatening.
  2. Wait for instructions and obey all instructions you are given.
  3. Do not be upset, resist, or argue if a rescuer isn't sure whether you are a suspect or a hostage.
  4. Even if you are handcuffed and searched, DO NOT resist. Just wait for the confusion to clear.
  5. You will be taken to a safe area, where proper identification and status will be determined.



To contact the Vanderbilt University Police Department in an emergency:

  • Call 911 from any campus phone.
  • Call (615) 421-1911  from any other phone.