Messaging system keeps students informed

Reporter and Reporter

When an emergency strikes, the University has various resources from AlertBG to digital signage to inform students, faculty and staff and ensure their safety.

In addition, University Police also offers programs to help prepare for such a situation.

In the event of an emergency, an emergency operation plan is in place to deal with multiple hazards, said Michael Campbell, captain for University Police. Depending on the type of hazard taking place, there are different processes set up to follow.

In addition, AlertBG is a text messaging program used to communicate with students, faculty and staff in case of emergencies on campus, Campbell said. AlertBG increases the University’s ability to communicate a variety of warnings, such as severe weather, campus closings, canceled classes, building closures and crimes in progress.

“It’s for those who sign up for it,” Campbell said. “In the event of an emergency, you’ll get concise texts directing you to stay away from areas … Along with texts, there’s a mass email that’s sent out.”

Besides a mass email, the University’s website will display a message to inform students in the event of an emergency, he said. Digital signage on campus will also change depending on the emergency.

“This basically informs the students and staff where it is on campus that they should stay away from,” Campbell said. “That being said, we always try to come up with new ways for people to be informed in the event of an emergency.”

Depending on the type of emergency, there are different parameters set up, Campbell said. For example, in the event of a tornado, sirens would sound on campus and an AlertBG text message would be sent out.

In such an event students should check their media outlets for updates as well, he said.

University Police also offer an hour-long training program called “Recognizing and Caring for Individuals in Distress,” available for students, as well as faculty and staff. The program helps individuals recognize someone who is in distress or is displaying strange behavior and learn how to respond to such behavior.

“Sometimes people have trouble in knowing what to do and whether or not to get involved and how to report it,” Campbell said. “The program teaches people what to do.”

In addition to the program, the police also offers ALICE training, which is a training program for an active shooter program.

“ALICE” is an acronym standing for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate, Campbell said. The training gives a person who is caught in such a situation more options for increasing survivability.

It gives an individual more tools than just a lockdown, he said.

“We have done Residence Life training as far as [resident advisers] and hall directors,” Campbell said. “We also had instructors planning to cancel class have us come in and give background information about our programs.”

Kari Johnson, executive assistant to the dean, said it’s good to be prepared for emergency situations and different scenarios.

Both programs help people assess situations and how to best react, she said.

Jonah Phillips, University senior, said every year, millions of students walk onto a college or university campus with one overall goal: to obtain a higher level of education.

To ensure students are provided the best possible opportunity to succeed in college, a safe and secure learning environment is essential, he said.

Whether it is campus security walking students to their cars at night or students having cans of pepper spray in their pockets, security is important, Phillips said. Learning the information offered from the University’s programs is vital.

“The importance of campus safety should be stressed throughout colleges and universities everywhere,” he said.