In the wake of an emergency, timing can make a huge difference in the safety of others. This is especially when it comes to emergency notification systems. The quicker the notification reaches you, the safer you are and the more at ease you feel knowing that your safety is a top priority.  

On May 1st, one student was killed and three other students were badly wounded during a stabbing that happened on the University of Texas campus. Many students took to social media to update others on the events of the attack, as well as express their frustration over not having received any notifications from the university’s emergency alert system until 30 minutes after the attack had taken place.

The initial attack took place at 1:46 pm and it was reported that the first emergency alert from UT arrived at 2:14 pm, which was after news of stabbing had already been spread across campus by students on social media.

University of Texas is not the first campus to experience this issue, in fact, in 2010 the University of Montana had a similar issue where the Law school’s dean sent out a message to all of the law students and faculty at 11:13 am telling them to evacuate the building due to a threatening email. However, it wasn’t until 12:27 pm that the rest of the campus received notifications through the emergency communication system alerting them of the incident.

 

Improving Emergency Messaging Systems

The reason for why it took so long for the campus alert system to send out texts to the faculty and staff still is a bit foggy, however, there are ways that schools can help to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their messaging system and the notification process in general.

Here are a few ways to improve this:

  • Emergency messaging templates – This is by far one of the easiest ways to improve your emergency notification system. By using emergency messaging templates, you are able to create preset texts and email notifications to send off during an emergency.
  • Emergency messaging drills/tests – In addition to using emergency messaging templates, it is also important to perform regular emergency messaging drills and tests to ensure that the notification system is working properly. By testing the system regularly, you will be able to feel at ease knowing that the system is working properly in the event an emergency situation should arise.
  • Have clearly defined roles – By having a crisis team and clearly defined roles within the crisis team, there will be no confusion as to who will be doing what when an emergency strikes. An emergency can be an exceptionally stressful and confusing time, which is why it is so important to make sure that each person within the crisis team knows what their job is during an emergency. For example, having one person designated to sending out the emergency notification, while another is in charge of handling the media.

With Preparis’ Emergency Notification & Incident Management System you can quickly:

  • Alert faculty and students with a two-way emergency notification system, which features voice, text and email message delivery
  • Use the incident management tool to filter and update the status of staff and students, along with the ability to document incidents
  • Create call-in announcements so students, faculty or family can call in to receive critical updates
  • Create preset message templates or customize your own messages
  • Establish conference calls to discuss next steps with crisis team members
  • Communicate with your entire organization or by role, group and department

You also might find Preparis’ Responding to Workplace Violence Checklist to be helpful.

For more information about the Preparis Portal and its emergency notification system, click here.