George Mason Law School

Alert system tested

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September 21, 2007

4:05 AM

The chemical spill that sent four employees to the hospital and led to the evacuation of the Campus Center Tuesday revealed problems in the College’s new emergency alert system.

p. Vice President for Student Affairs Sam Sadler told the Daily Press that the alert service was activated at 11:15 a.m., explaining the discrepancy between the event at 9:30 a.m. and the alerts. When the alert system is activated, calls and text messages are sent to the nearly 19,000 people who are signed up, including students, faculty, staff and parents.

p. The system is new to the campus this year. A test of the system is scheduled for this Monday at 10:30 a.m., during which a 120-decibal alarm will sound on campus and adjoining areas.
A College press release described the test.

p. “The drill will allow campus officials to verify the number of … students, faculty and staff who have signed up to be notified by the alert system, and it will test the campus community’s knowledge of what to do in a real emergency situation,” the release stated. “The siren test will allow both the campus and the local community to become familiar with its sound.”

p. The release added that the College will activate an emergency website that describes the situation in place of the usual home page.

p.According to Sadler, administrators decided to send the message only to those on campus or those affiliated with the Campus Center — about half of the 19,000 signed up. However, at least one student not enrolled this semester received a call, and many parents were notified, including those in other states. Sadler added that 157 people did not receive a message or a call at all.
In a follow-up e-mail to students, Sadler explained that the incident revealed several problems with the system which would need to be fixed. Another failing of the system was the alert siren, which should sound during the upcoming test.

p.According to the Daily Press, the system costs approximately $20,000 annually.

p. Sadler was unavailable at press time for further comment.

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