As of March 9, the University of Toronto has implemented a new Emergency Alert System (EAS) for students, staff and faculty. In the event of a crisis on campus, the new alert system will send messages to all registered landlines and mobile phones. Email communications have recently been sent to all U of T email addresses to encourage online registration in the program.
The EAS was supplied by a company called Aizan, based in Richmond Hill. The idea for this type of system originated after the Virginia Tech shooting massacre in 2007. The Crisis Management Team at U of T recently asked the Department of Faculty and Staff Communications to look into implementing it as a way to more effectively deal with potential emergency situations.
Erin Lemon, director of faculty and staff communication, explained that the EAS is an additional safety measure for students, faculty and staff to let them know what to do and where to go in the event of a crisis at the U of T.
This is a new system that will allow the Crisis Management Team to get alerts out to everyone and let them know what to do, where to go, said Lemon, who also indicated that alerts would be sent out in the event that a campus needed to be evacuated.
Almost everyone carries a cell phone these days. Its good to have an alert system that is on you all the time, especially on a campus as big as ours, noted Lemon. Furthermore, when one registers their phone number in the online database, they indicate which campus they frequent most often, as the system has the ability to alert a specific campus affected. If there was an emergency at the Mississauga campus, only individuals who attend that campus would be notified.
We wont necessarily use it in every situation, commented Lemon, adding that in the event of a fire there are already procedures that the fire department has in place to deal with those specific types of emergencies.
In the future, the EAS will be tested once a year, in similar fashion to a fire drill. You might get a voice or text message, explained Lemon. In addition to maintenance tests, students who have graduated will be removed from the system on a yearly basis.
Its a tool I hope we never have to use, but it is a good safety tool to have, concluded Lemon.
To sign up for emergency alerts, visit http://alert.utoronto.ca/callme.