For immediate use: Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012
Alert Carolina siren, text message test successful
The University today (Feb. 28) successfully tested emergency sirens, including a new sixth location at the William and Ida Friday Continuing Education Center, as well as text-message delivery as part of the Alert Carolina safety awareness campaign.
The sirens sounded an alert tone in conjunction with a brief pre-recorded public address message broadcast. The siren activation was followed by two test text messages – one for when the sirens initially sounded and another for the “all clear” – to cell phone numbers registered by students, faculty and staff in the online campus directory.
The sirens, all of which worked properly, are located at Hinton James Residence Hall off Manning Drive; the Gary R. Tomkins Chilled Water Operations Center behind the Dogwood Parking Deck; Winston Residence Hall at the corner of Raleigh Street and South Road; near Hill Hall behind University Methodist Church; and next to University buildings and support facilities near the Giles Horney Building off Martin Luther King Boulevard; as well as at the Friday Center, located about three miles east of the central campus.
Text messages were sent to more than 37,700 unique cell phone numbers registered to students, faculty and staff. Delivery of the initial test text message when the sirens sounded was attempted to all of those numbers within about 85 seconds. For the second “all clear” text message, delivery was attempted within 66 seconds. In addition, the University sent more than 50,300 emails for both the initial siren activation and “all clear.” Send times ranged between six minutes and seven minutes.
“We only sound the sirens when police have confirmed an emergency or immediate safety or health threat,” said Director of Public Safety Jeff McCracken. “We conduct the test to make sure our equipment works properly. We also ask students, faculty and staff to use the test as an opportunity to think about how you would respond if faced with a life-threatening situation.”
The University recently put up posters in every classroom to help educate students and faculty about what to do when the sirens sound. The poster is accessible at alertcarolina.unc.edu.
In an actual emergency, the sirens would sound if an armed and dangerous person was on or near campus, a major chemical spill or hazard had been reported or a tornado warning was issued in Orange County by the National Weather Service. The sirens also could sound for a different emergency, as determined by the Department of Public Safety, for which a general siren and alert message would be activated.
When the sirens sound, people should go inside or take cover immediately, close windows and doors, and stay until the “all clear” message sounds. The sirens are not designed to be heard in buildings or while driving in vehicles. And there can be limitations with text messaging if there are problems with cell phone service or if users are out of service range.
University officials emphasize that the sirens and text messages are part of a multi-layered approach to communicating in an emergency. Those efforts are anchored by alertcarolina.unc.edu. The University also communicates through means including campus-wide e-mail and voice mail (only for campus land lines), the Adverse Weather and Emergency Phone Line, 843-1234, for recorded information, and the University Access Channel (Chapel Hill Time Warner Cable Channel 4) along with other campus cable television channels.
Contact: Mike McFarland, University Relations, firstname.lastname@example.org, (919) 962-8593
voice: (919) 962-2091
voice: (919) 216-2584