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Personal Safety

A Few Simple Strategies to Follow

Your personal safety is a general recognition and avoidance of possible harmful situations or persons in your surroundings. You can increase your personal safety by following a few simple strategies.

  • Develop a plan of action to use if you are confronted or assaulted.
  • Always lock the doors of your residence and vehicle.
  • Avoid walking alone, especially at night.
  • Know the location of blue light phones on campus

If you are notified of or involved in an emergency or crisis, stay calm, assess the situation, and be prepared to take safety precautions based on your personal situation.

  • Stay away from the area of the emergency or crisis.
  • Find a safe place and stay there until you are notified that the emergency is over.
  • If you are directly affected by the emergency, (call 911 if you are not on Campus) or UTHSC Police at (901) 448-4444 as soon as it is safe to do so. Provide as much information as you can and stay on the phone until told to hang up.
  • Alert others if you can without endangering yourself.
  • Evacuate the area by a safe route if possible.
  • If the emergency is an active threat and you are unable to evacuate the area, attempt to seek an area of safe refuge.
  • If you must seek refuge, secure doors and windows as quickly as possible and barricade as many items between you and the threat.
  • Do not attempt to make contact with the individual(s) responsible for the threat unless no other option is available.
  • Once in a secure location, do not open the door for anyone but the police.

Get more information from the UTHSC Campus Police.

The Guardian App is one of the best ways to improve your personal safety and make campus a safer community.  It provides rapid and proactive communications with friends, family, co-workers, UTHSC PD, and 9-1-1 in the event of emergency.

Guardian Features:

Set a safety timer. Notify people you trust to check in on you if you are alone or in an unfamiliar place.

Manage and message your guardians. Invite family, friends, or others to be your guardian, and communicate with them within the app if needed.

Easy emergency communication. Call safety officials directly for help if you are in trouble and send text tips—including photos—if you see something suspicious.  UT Alerts can also be received through the app notifications.

Send a Tip. Send a crime tip or report suspicious activity through text and images directly to UTHSC PD. UTHSC PD will be able to contact you to follow up as needed. Text tip should not be used for ongoing emergencies or for reporting being a victim of a crime. Call 911!

Download the UT app at the Google Play, or Apple App Store to receive the Guardian app.

Users will be prompted to set up their Guardian account and create a safety profile. Use your UTHSC email address to access the UTHSC-specific interactive features and allow notifications to receive UTHSC Alert messages through the app.

Alerts to the app are delivered using WiFi and will work in the event that text delivery is impacted by issues with cellular connectivity.

The University employs a variety of methods to notify the campus community of dangerous situations and major interruptions in campus operations.  Examples are:

  • UTHSC Alert Text/Email 
  • ALERTUS - emergency notification messages to the desktop of computers on the UTHSC network through the Alertus client software. 

The UT System Reconnect website offers a way to register and share information during an emergency. 

  • One of the biggest challenges the campus will face in a major emergency is helping the campus community and the university extended family get information about the safety of students, faculty and staff and ultimately help them reconnect following a disaster.
  • You play the biggest role in making this possible. Following an emergency, it is critical that students, faculty and staff reach out to concerned love ones and let them know they are safe. The campus has procedures in place to help, but the reality of campus life makes perfect accountability impossible.

Theft is a crime of opportunity. If you do not take precautions to protect your property you increase the risk that it could be stolen. Theft is the most reported crime on college campuses, including the UTHSC campus. You can greatly reduce your chance of becoming victimized by following simple theft prevention strategies.

Take the following precautions to safeguard your property:

  • When you leave your room or office, even for a moment, always keep your doors and windows locked. Do not prop open or disengage the locking system on the door or windows.
  • Never leave your purse, wallet, book bag, laptop, cell phone, iPod, or other property unattended even for a moment in a public setting. If you must leave your property, leave it with someone you know, not a person studying or working in the area. Before you walk away from your property: “stop, think and secure.”
  • Never allow anyone you do not know to enter a locked building when you are entering or exiting. Do not let people “piggyback” with you! If someone does enter that you don’t recognize please call the UTHSC PD at 901-448-4444 immediately. Do not confront them or ignore them.
  • Do not hang your pocketbook or bag over the back of your chair while you are in a dining establishment or other public place. Do not place your pocketbook or bag under the table out of sight.
  • Keep an updated list of all personal property that have serial numbers, especially your personal electronics and bicycles. Please note the MAC addresses on any technology that has access to the internet. This information may help detectives with their investigation.
  • Download the “Find my iPhone” (works for Macs and iPods as well) app.

If you are the victim of a theft, report it immediately to the UTHSC PD at 901-448-4444.

What to do if you are a victim of theft:

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center regrets that you have been the victim of a theft while working, going to school, or visiting the University. It is understood that this may be a difficult time for you. In an effort to mitigate further risk to your personal accounts we have created the following checklist of personal and financial security. When your financial institutions receive timely notification regarding the loss of your property, they are in a better position to prevent fraudulent activity on your accounts. If you have any further questions regarding next steps to take, please do not hesitate to contact the UTHSC PD at 901-448-4444.

  • File a police report with the UTHSC Police Department.
  • If you lost your University ID inform the UTHSC PD immediately.
  • If you have any physical keys that were also stolen, inform the owner of that property so that the lock(s) may be rekeyed.
  • Call your financial institutions and cancel all applicable credit and debit cards. Request new cards with new numbers to ensure the protection of your accounts.
  • If your wallet contained checks, call your banking institution to receive further instructions to protect your account.
  • If your health insurance card was in your wallet, call your health insurance provider and request a new card.
  • Consider all of the accounts that may automatically deduct money from your accounts. Remember to update those accounts where appropriate.
  • If you have any membership cards in your wallet, (i.e. gym, supermarket, etc.) notify the applicable companies and request replacement cards.
  • Call the appropriate department or registry of motor vehicles and request a new license or identification card with a new number.
  • Replace any applicable government issued cards such as your social security card, military identification card, or passport.
  • Contact the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and Transunion) and ask them to put a fraud alert on your account. If you are not applying for a job or new credit, ask them to place a freeze. They will give you a personal identification number that will be needed to lift it. After 60 days, you should run a free credit report to verify your account. For more information, please visit

What types of behavior might be cause of concern?

While no list can be exhaustive, the following are signs of troubling behaviors you may notice in yourself or others.  Displaying one or more of these traits does not predict violent behavior, but intervention could help prevent progression of symptoms and provide needed support to the person.

  • Depression
  • Fixation on weapons
  • Anger or paranoia
  • Chemical dependency
  • Social isolation
  • Zealotry-racial, religious, political, etc.
  • Pushing the limits of acceptable behavior
  • Contempt for authority
  • Newly acquired bad traits
  • Newly acquired poor personal hygiene
  • Verbal threats, bullying
  • Discussion or act of stalking and harassing others

If you suspect an individual may become Immediately violent:

  • Call UTHSC PD at 901-448-4444, or call 911.
  • Try to calm the person down, but don’t threaten.
  • Maintain an escape route and distance if a weapon is present.
  • If you encounter an already violent situation, evacuate and call 911. If you’re unable to leave, seek shelter inside the building preferably behind a locked door in a room without windows.

Best practices for handling employment actions:

  • Partner with UTPD, University Health, or Human Resources as you prepare to take actions, which are corrective or disciplinary in nature.
  • Have another supervisor in the room as a witness.
  • If there is a past history of volatile behavior, a UTHSC police officer or other security personnel can be nearby during difficult meetings such as terminations.
  • Consider the day of week/time of day for a difficult meeting to reduce the number of people who are potentially exposed.
  • Think about the location of a difficult meeting. If there is concern about volatile behavior, choose a private room with more than one exit.
  • For a difficult meeting, pre-screen the individual for behavior. Pre-screening involves the support staff greeting the individual and observing if there are any concerning behaviors upon arrival or departure.
  • Provide a cooling-off period for employees who get angry or very upset during a meeting. Stop the meeting and consider paid administrative leave for 24-48 hours and a follow-up meeting.

Last Published: Jul 13, 2017