Since the tragedy that occurred at Virginia Tech last year, schools across the nation have been assessing their emergency response methods to better prepare for a similar event on their own campuses. Officials at the University have analyzed their emergency response systems, and have recently had a chance to exercise their efforts.
Last Wednesday, a bomb threat was called in for Willey Hall at about 10:30 a.m. By 11:30 a.m., 10,000 people who were signed up for the University’s TXT-U alert system received text messages informing them of the threat and resulting building closure.
This instance shows progress in the University’s emergency response capabilities. E-mail alerts sent in response to a bomb threat April 18 took up to three hours to reach some students’ inboxes. This was due in part to the University’s e-mail networks abilities to send mass e-mails in a short period of time.
While the text message alert method seemed to work very well during last week’s bomb threat, an instance similar to the e-mail backup last April is still possible. Anyone who uses text messaging knows that sometimes, the messages just don’t go through.
Because of the possibility that either the e-mail or the text message systems fail, or take a long time to work, and because of the increased rate at which the University receives threats, it is necessary that the University continues to use the multiple means of alerting that it does. Also, new notification methods should be explored, such as the outdoor public address system. Despite the costs of installation, the system would alert those who aren’t connected to the Internet or a cell phone, and it would be a permanent system that will likely serve importance during future years at the University.
Although the instances of threats are high, it is important that we continue to take them seriously, and the University’s efforts to increase our preparedness are a reflection of their commitment to doing this.