Dear Colleagues:

Over the last few days, we have learned more fully the extent of the devastation caused by the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. UCSF extends our condolences to the community of Newtown, Connecticut, especially to those who are grieving the loss of their children, friends, teachers, school administrators, and neighbors.

An incident like this could raise concerns about our own community and preparedness at UCSF. I want to assure you that the UCSF Police Department continues to enhance the equipment, training, and exercises for our police officers to respond to threats, including an active-shooter incident. For example, we are installing warning devices in classrooms and high-traffic campus locations.

We also have strengthened our ability to warn affiliates, faculty, postdocs, staff, students, and trainees, using the WarnMe mass notification system. If an imminent threat to life and safety were to occur, the UCSF police would activate the WarnMe system and alert members of the UCSF community on their individual cell phone and other registered phone numbers.

I encourage every one of us to take a few minutes right now to register with the WarnMe system if you have not done so already.

For more information about how we are preparing for emergencies, please visit the UCSF Police Department website at

Advice for Speaking with Children

Many of us also may want advice in regard to helping children cope with what they hear about this tragedy and how to best answer their questions. I encourage you to visit and read the advice provided by UCSF’s Patricia Van Horn, JD, PhD, Director, Division of Infant, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at San Francisco General Hospital. Links to additional sources of information also are provided here.

It is my wish that as we continue to grapple with the news from Connecticut, each of us finds moments of joy, peace, and hope this holiday season.


Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH
Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock Distinguished Professor