Practical emergency ideas needed

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Practical emergency ideas needed

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Issue Date:Friday August 31, 2007
Section: Editorial Section

West Virginia University, like many colleges around the country, has been dealing with a ripple effect of concern from faculty, students and parents alike in regards to the shooting at Virginia Tech earlier this year.

A report, commissioned by Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine yesterday, revealed the failings of the Virginia Tech response to the situation.

Earlier this week, The Daily Athenaeum ran a story about our college considering a variety of crisis options, including one widely thrown around by the media: text messaging.

According to the Aug. 24 article, "Chief Bob Roberts of WVU's Department of Public Safety, the University may try mass text messaging, siren alerts, video displays and safety awareness programs."

"We are currently trying to evaluate how we would put this all together," Roberts said in the article. The communication and notification committee are going to meet together to discuss final issues regarding these plans."

While it is important that the University and its law enforcement officials corroborate on ideas to better alert and inform the WVU community about possible dangers, it is also necessary that we take a step back and encourage truly practical ideas, designed not for flashiness but for mass utilization and for the clearest, most direct announcement of danger.

While text messaging is a great idea, some cell phones and carriers have reputations for messages arriving days late. Additionally, not everybody has them.

Plastering LCD screens everywhere on campus that will regularly need replacing, the visibility of such screens may be too low to properly alert everyone.

The University could most benefit from a University-wide speaker system, an idea highlighted in the DA article.

A centralized speaker system that could be piped into classrooms, much like those in K-12 schoolrooms, could easily be channeled into the PRT and its stations (which are both already equipped with its own radio system), and in the open areas between buildings. This would be an effective way to alert those in danger and issue appropriate lockdown procedures.

It is the unfortunate gain of the rest of us in the college community throughout rest of the country - that we are able to reassess our handicaps and flaws in regards to our emergency response systems.

It is also unfortunate that it is left up to national situations like the shooting at Virginia Tech to spearhead such movements.

Those that perished on April 16 paid the ultimate price, in part, due to "missed opportunities" to seize gunman Cho.

Let us hope that we, as colleges, are able to learn from this tragedy, and are able to avoid our own "missed opportunities" if, God forbid, anything like the tragic events at Virginia Tech should happen here.

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Original Source: The Daily Athenaeum
<a href="http://www.da.wvu.edu/show_article.php?&story_id=29638">http://www.da.wvu.edu/show_article.php?&story_id=29638</a>

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Editorial Staff

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2008-02-18

Contributor

Kacey Beddoes

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Leann Ray <Leann.Ray@mail.wvu.edu>

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eng

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Editorial Staff, "Practical emergency ideas needed," in The April 16 Archive, Item #1702, http://www.april16archive.org/items/show/1702 (accessed July 25, 2014).