Research proved what the students had suspected: Few of their peers knew or cared about sheltering in place. They didn't know where the shelters on campus were.
Dionne Clifton, one of Ford-Ahmed's students, knew about sheltering in place only because she lived in the dorms.
"We had drills," said Clifton, who is from Ohio. "Although why we were doing it was not really explained."
Locals, on the other hand, usually know about chemical leaks. But they don't usually know about sheltering in place, Clifton said.
"Two years ago, during homecoming, we had a leak," she said. "I was walking to my car. I looked at the plant and I thought, 'Boy, there's a lot of smoke coming from the plant.' Then the siren went off.
"There was a busload of people standing outside. A couple of people ran inside, but the rest were just standing there."
After students see the public relations film this month, Ford-Ahmed's students will conduct a follow-up survey, to see if it taught their peers anything.
"A couple of the students I've talked to seem more secure," Clifton said. "If something happens, they'll be able to survive."
Every disaster need
Monday night, WVSC students filmed a TV public service announcement for the governor's "Getting Ready" handbook. It should start airing within the next week or two, along with some radio announcements.
The 32-page booklet covers every imaginable disaster need: What to say to children, what to do with pets, recognizing suspicious mail, packing an evacuation kit.
Student Jill Oxley has packed her kit.
"Buy food with a long shelf life, but don't put it on a shelf," she said. "Those suitcases with handles and wheels are great, and they're usually sitting empty in the closet. Put your food in it."
Oxley learned the hard way that plastic water bottles leak easily. Plastic 2-liter pop bottles are better — a point made in the handbook.
The handbook is far more detailed than similar publications put out by Washington and Atlanta, Ford-Ahmed said.
"I really think this should be a national model," she said.
Booklets are available at county emergency offices or on the Internet at www.state.wv.us/wvoes.
To contact staff writer Tara Tuckwiller, use e-mail or call 348-5189.