Ithaca College is implementing a new system to help improve communications to the campus community in the event of an emergency. Faculty and staff members will be the recipients of the first test messages for the Emergency Notification System (ENS) on Thursday, Aug. 23. That afternoon, the college will send a test message to all faculty and staff e-mail accounts and to office telephones as listed in the campus phone directory.
“The recent tragedy at Virginia Tech has made everyone recognize the value and urgency of implementing a mass communication service using all of the tools currently available to us,” said Brian McAree, vice president for student affairs and campus life. “This test will help us determine how well and how quickly a message can be distributed, as well as give recipients a sense of what they might see and hear in the event of an actual emergency. We will be doing additional testing, to include students, later in the fall semester.”
Ithaca College has contracted with Connect-Ed, a division of the NTI Group, to help provide the service. By default, any emergency messages that are sent will go to all college e-mail accounts and to office telephones that are listed in the campus directory.
The college is constructing a website that will give faculty, staff and students the option of adding contact methods, including additional phone numbers, e-mail addresses and a cell phone number for text messages.
“We will be providing information on the sign-up process for adding contacts once the fall semester gets underway,” said McAree. “For the Emergency Notification System to reach its fullest potential—enabling us to contact faculty, staff and students in multiple ways any time and anywhere in the event of an emergency—I encourage everyone to take advantage of this option when it becomes available.”
For faculty and staff, the Emergency Notification System uses the phone number that is listed for each individual in the campus telephone directory. Those who do not currently have the number for the phone at their desk listed in the directory will have the option of adding that number once the ENS website is established.
McAree stressed that the ENS will only be used in the event of a true emergency situation, in which it is vital to give immediate notification and instructions to the campus community. The contact information will not be used by the college or by Connect-Ed for any other purpose. For more information on Connect-Ed, visit http://www.ntigroup.com/products/higher-ed.asp.
The ENS is part of the college’s overall emergency planning effort. McAree serves as chair of the Ithaca College Core Emergency Response Team (CERT), which meets regularly to assess preparedness and to develop timely, coordinated and effective responses to emergency situations.