Purdue implements new safety enhancements as students return for fall semester

August 22, 2014  

Alertus emergency beacons

Alertus emergency beacons are being installed in 27 large classrooms across the West Lafayette campus. These beacons are approximately the size of a tablet computer and will be located at the front of the room, in full view of the class. The beacons have lights and an audio alarm, which will be activated at the same time an emergency text alert is issued. The text message will also appear on the screen of the beacon. (Purdue News Service photo/Ray Cubberley)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - As students return for the fall 2014 semester at Purdue University, they will notice enhancements to public safety on the West Lafayette campus that were implemented over the summer months.

These additional safety measures were based on recommendations made by the security feedback panel that was commissioned last semester to evaluate feedback received by the university after Jan. 21. These recommendations were listed in the panel’s final report to President Mitch Daniels. Among these recommendations, the following steps have been taken:

* As part of a pilot program, emergency beacons, door locks and desktop pop-up alert windows are being installed across campus. Emergency alert beacons are being installed in 27 large classrooms. These beacons will be activated when a Purdue ALERT is issued. Students and faculty will see the beacon light up, and an alarm will sound. An emergency text message will also appear on the beacon’s screen.

* Door locks are being installed in these same classrooms. These locks will be compliant with ADA requirements and fire codes.

* Desktop pop-up alerts have been installed on a majority of classroom computers and on machines in a majority of university computer labs. A window will pop up on a machine with a message when a Purdue ALERT is issued. The plan is to phase in more university computers in the coming months if the pilot program is successful.

* The Purdue Emergency Twitter account (@purdueemergency) has been integrated with the Purdue ALERT text message system. Text messages sent to university students, faculty and staff will be simultaneously posted on Twitter. Enhancements have also been made to the Campus Safety Status webpage. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to bookmark this page.

* All-hazards awareness training sessions will continue to be available to those interested through the Emergency Preparedness Office. To date, more than 2,000 faculty, students and staff have participated in these sessions since last spring. The training seminar is now available online through the university’s WebCert program, as well as Blackboard Learn.

“Based on the final report of the security feedback panel, we looked at what was possible to do now and we’ve taken the steps to implement the items we identified. We’re not done and we continue to evaluate ways to better prepare our campus community in the event of an emergency,” said Carol Shelby, senior director of environmental health and public safety. “We want to give those on campus the information and the tools so they can make decisions to ensure their personal safety.”

“These enhancements to public safety will begin a data-driven process that systemically reduces risk across campus and has a clear path toward a safer campus,” said Eric Dietz, professor and director of the Purdue Homeland Security Institute. Dietz and Shelby are members of the implementation committee charged with evaluating the recommendations of the security feedback panel report and taking action.

Dietz added that the action must have the support of the Purdue students, staff and faculty.

Information on these enhancements is posted on the Environmental Health and Public Safety website. A letter recently distributed by the Office of the Provost provided information and suggested instructions for faculty members on the topic of safety. This letter was also published in Purdue Today, the university’s internal newsletter to faculty and staff.

The Emergency Preparedness and Planning Office will be rolling out a campaign called “Get ready, get set, go” to help the campus community decide what steps need to be taken when an emergency is not near him or her specifically, nearby his or her location and inside his or her building.

 “We have 350 buildings and, on a given day, more than 50,000 people on campus. Each individual should think about what steps they would need to take in the event of an emergency, given their building and where he or she is located on campus,” said Ron Wright, director of emergency preparedness. “That’s the goal of ‘get ready, get set, go.”

Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to sign up for emergency text alerts from Purdue. Faculty and staff are also advised to familiarize themselves with their Building Emergency Plan. 

Writer: Liz Evans, 765-494-2084, lizevans@purdue.edu

Sources: Carol Shelby, 765-494-7504, cshelby@purdue.edu

Ron Wright, 765-494-0446, rdwright@purdue.edu

Eric Dietz, 765-494-8130, jedietz@purdue.edu 

Related Web sites:

Purdue University Home Page:  http://www.purdue.edu

Campus Safety Status Page:  http://www.purdue.edu/ea

Emergency Preparedness Resources: http://www.purdue.edu/ehps/emergency_preparedness/

Security Feedback Panel Final Report: http://www.purdue.edu/provost/security/140428-Final-Report-from-Security-Panel.pdf

Note to Journalists: Video of the emergency beacon and desktop pop-up alert window is available for use at: ftp://news69.uns.purdue.edu/Public/EmergencyAlerts/. To arrange interviews, please contact Liz Evans at 317-696-0745 or lizevans@purdue.edu

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