Wake Forest installs outdoor emergency alert system
January 26, 2009
Wake Forest University has installed a new outdoor alert system that will use a siren and prerecorded messages to warn the Reynolda Campus of emergencies ranging from a tornado to an armed intruder. The university tested it during winter break so that it would be in operation when classes resumed this month.
Wake Forest initiated the outdoor alerts as part of its ongoing effort to enhance how it communicates with students, staff, faculty and others in the event of a campus emergency. In 2008, Wake Forest launched a text message system and on-screen alerts for televisions hooked up to the campus’ cable service. Also last year, Wake Forest’s police department installed a new two-way radio system that enables its staff to communicate directly with area law enforcement officers, firefighters and Emergency Medical Service staff. In addition, Wake Forest can send e-mails and voice mails to the campus community.
In addition to supplementing alerts by other means, the outdoor system reaches visitors and others who can only be reached in that manner.
“Any day of the week, Wake Forest has visitors of all sorts,” said Ken Zick, vice president for student life and chair of the university’s Crisis Management Team. “The outdoor alerts may be the only means we have of alerting them to a potential threat.”
Ultimately, Zick added, the outdoor alert system serves the entire campus community, since it adds to all other efforts to reach them in an emergency.
The outdoor system relies on speakers set up at three campus locations: Davis Field across from Parking Lot B, behind Kentner Stadium near the tennis courts, and along Wingate Road near the Facilities Management and University Police offices.
Emergency messages announced by the speakers will be preceded by a siren. The messages are prerecorded and intended to alert people to various emergencies, such as a chemical hazard, an armed intruder or a tornado.
The University Police Department is responsible for activating the outdoor alert system, as well as those systems for text messages and cable TV emergency messages.
On occasion, police might test the outdoor alert system. In such cases, a chime will be heard followed by a prerecorded message declaring that a test of the emergency alert system is being conducted.
Similar alert systems are used throughout the United States on university and school campuses.