BANGOR, Maine (WCSH)-- Pharmacy robberies are no surprise to many pharmacists and pharmacy students. Last year, 56 robberies put both the pharmacist and customers in harms way. Four students from Husson University found themselves caught in one of the many robberies.
Fourth year student Bruce Jarvi at Husson University never expected it would happen to him, "The experience, it was all very quick. However the time that it happened is embedded in my memory and probably will be for a very long time."
Jarvi was working at a local pharmacy when the store was robbed.
Jarvi said, "I was surprised to say the least, and it was a unique experience I hope not to have again."
Last year pharmacy robberies averaged about one a week.
Pharmacy professor Gregory Cameron said, "It means these students when they go on rotation, at least three of these students are going to get robbed. So it's a scary, scary total I should say."
After experiencing a robbery followed by a police investigation, Jarvi decided to create a program to prepare pharmacy students for what he said is inevitable.
"It's not a question of if, it's a question of when it is going to happen. So they need to know how to deal with it so we don't lose them as potential pharmacists in the future," explained Jarvi.
Husson University partnered with Brewer Police department to hold a special class to prepare students both studying pharmacy and criminal justice. The students were given tips on how to spot a potential robber and what mannerisms to be aware of when working. The class also discussed proper record keeping to help police figure out exactly what is stolen in a heist. Finally, the students were taught how to handle witnesses after danger has passed to ensure the most accurate testimony.
Cameron said, "It's gotten to the stage where it's a regular occurrence and pharmacists have to keep that in the back of their mind the whole time."
According to Jarvi, it will take open communication between law enforcement and all pharmacies large or small to help end the robberies.
"We need to have cross communication so that we can get a unified front conveying that we as a profession do not approve of this and do not condone this and we would like to try and find mechanisms to help prevent it in the future," said Jarvi.
Husson University will be holding another special section with the Brewer Police Department. The course will also be replicated for the Maine Pharmacy Association's meeting in the spring.